GOP split over 'brutal' decision to challenge Electoral College

Republican senators forced to chose sides ahead of Wednesday's joint session

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The Republican Party is seeing a divide as GOP senators and congressmen split over the decision to challenge states' Electoral College votes Wednesday.

While the U.S. House of Representatives has seen a steady increase in members committed to objecting to states' election results, Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and 11 others have been condemned by fellow GOP members in the higher chamber.


"To challenge a state’s certification, given how specific the Constitution is, would be a violation of my oath of office — that is not something I am willing to do and is not something Oklahomans would want me to do," Sen. Jim Inhofe, R- Okla., said in a statement Tuesday.

"I hear the frustration and anger from so many of my constituents – and believe me when I say that no one was more disappointed in the outcome of the presidential election on November 3 than me," he added ahead of Wednesday’s joint session.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., called his decision to certify "brutal," as the majority of his constituents urged him to challenge it.

"But at the end of the day, there are two things. One is my conscience is captive to God, and my oath is to the Constitution of the United States," he told MSNBC Wednesday.

Cramer said that he could not "reconcile" the objection with both his "conscience and the Constitution," adding that there is no role for the Senate to object to state electors.

"I’ve spent eight years in Congress fighting principally for states' rights," he said, adding that while the decision emotionally was a difficult one, intellectually it was a "fairly easy decision."

Trump’s repeated claims of voter and election fraud have forced Republicans in Congress to choose whether to side with states' election integrity or with the president. The senators in Cruz's group said in a Saturday statement that they were working to "protect" the democratic process, rather than thwarting it.


While more than 20 Republican senators including Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, Pat Toomey, Pa., Mitt Romney, Utah, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ky., have said they will vote to certify the Electoral College results Wednesday, senators like Marco Rubio, Fla., and Chuck Grassley, Iowa, have remained mum.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ala., infuriated Trump when he said he would not object to any state’s electoral votes, prompting the president to tell him on Twitter that voters would "never forget" his decision.

But Cotton said his decision was a matter of political strategy to protect the Electoral College, which gives small states like his own the ability to have a voice in the presidential election.

"Democrats could achieve their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College in effect by refusing to count electoral votes in the future for a Republican president-elect," Cotton said in a statement Sunday. "[O]bjecting to certified electoral votes won’t give him a second term—it will only embolden those Democrats who want to erode further our system of constitutional government."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., took the attitude that he would not be opposing the state’s certification because Cruz’s demands for an emergency audit by an electoral commission - just five days before the votes were set to be certified - was too little, too late.

"Proposing a commission at this late date - which has zero chance of becoming reality - is not effectively fighting for President Trump. It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy," Graham said.

Graham also appeared skeptical that his fellow senators would be able to prove there was voter or election fraud, despite questioning the validity of the election following Nov. 3.

"They will need to provide proof of the charges they are making. They will also need to provide clear and convincing evidence that the failure to act – in both the state and federal courts and the states legislatures which investigated these claims – was made in error," Graham said, adding that he looked forward to "listening closely" to the objections made.


Hawley has said that he will object to Pennsylvania’s results, while Cruz is expected to contest Arizona’s.

A source told Fox News Tuesday, that Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., will likely challenge her own state’s Electoral College votes.

Even with Senate and House Republican's posed to object to state's like Arizona and Pennsylvania, Congress is expected to certify the results Wednesday.