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GOP senators shrug off Trump’s conspiracies over election results: ‘He can say whatever he wants’

Top Senate Republicans seemed unmoved Monday by President Donald Trump’s baseless charges that the election was “rigged” and his false assertions that he actually won the election, even though the results show he lost the race despite his efforts to sow distrust over a cornerstone of US democracy.

As Democrats reacted with alarm to Trump’s weekend Twitter rants, Republicans shrugged it off.

“He can say whatever he wants,” said Sen. Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican who advises Senate GOP leadership.

Asked if she were bothered by Trump’s comments, Fischer said: “If I was bothered by everything that everyone around here says, I couldn’t come back.”

While a growing number of Republicans say that the formal transition process should begin, that Biden should get classified intelligence briefings and are skeptical that Trump’s legal challenges will succeed, few are willing to challenge Trump’s lies that the election was stolen from him, an allegation rejected by GOP and Democratic election officials across the country.

The indifference marks a familiar pattern through four years of Trump’s presidency: He stokes a major controversy, and Republicans on Capitol Hill largely ignore it. But this time, Trump is launching one conspiracy theory after another that many fear could sow unrest and have lasting ramifications on trust in US elections and faith in democracy.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees elections, downplayed Trump’s claims that the election was rigged. “I’m not overly concerned,” he said.

Asked if he thinks Trump won the election, Blunt said: “There’s a process for that. We are about at the end of the time period where you can make your case in court. Let’s let him do that.”

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the most senior Senate Republican who supports Biden getting classified briefings, downplayed Trump’s false claims that he won the election and baseless charges that the election was rigged.

Asked Monday if Trump should be making such comments, Grassley said: “All that’ll be settled by December the 14th,” referring to when electors meet in their state capitals to cast their ballots.

“There’s no sense worrying about anything else except just the number of electors, and whoever got 270 electors is going to be the next president,” he said.

Even as they back up the President, many are skeptical his claims will hold up in court.

Asked if the elections were rigged, as Trump said, Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who won his race in Texas this month, said: “I don’t know if he’s referring to a specific incident or generally.”

Cornyn seemed to think that Trump’s claims of fraud won’t change the election: “I haven’t seen anything that would change the outcome.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said that Trump is within his legal rights to challenge the election, sought to reassure the public last week that the transition would not be interrupted. But on Monday, McConnell was silent when asked if he agrees with Trump’s false claims that he “won the election.”

Some of Trump’s staunchest defenders also had no objection to the President’s claims.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday that he has no concerns that Trump is sowing doubt in the democratic process, arguing it’s “fair game” for him to claim victory because “we don’t know yet” who won, despite election results clearly showing Biden on track for an Electoral College victory.

“I’m not concerned about the President saying that he thinks he won the election,” Hawley said. “I think that’s totally fair game. He can go out and make his argument.”

Others avoided getting pinned down on the subject.

Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican and member of GOP leadership, wouldn’t say if he agrees with Trump that the election was “rigged.”

“There have been a number of tweets that have been back and forth, so I’m not sure what the most recent one was,” Barrasso said.

This story has been updated with additional responses Monday.



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