McConnell reportedly begged Senate colleagues in a leaked call not to block Congress from recognizing Biden as president-elect

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McConnell reportedly begged Senate colleagues in a leaked call not to block Congress from recognizing Biden as president-elect
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked his Senate colleagues in a leaked call not to stop Congress from officially recognizing Joe Biden as the president-elect next month, Politico reported.
  • McConnell said on the call that if Senate Republicans joined in with a long-shot House Republican effort to throw out a state's electoral votes for Biden and hand them to Trump, the Senate would ultimately vote it down, according to Politico.
  • It would be a "terrible vote" for the GOP, McConnell said, because it could spark a showdown between congressional Republican leaders and Trump, who has continued to baselessly claim the election was rigged.
  • Sen. John Thune went even further, telling colleagues on the call, "It would be great if there were no members that took up that issue."

The Senate majority leader and several of his senior colleagues begged Senate Republicans on a phone call Tuesday not to try to block Congress from formally recognizing Joe Biden as the president-elect next month, Politico's Jake Sherman reported.

Sherman tweeted that Sens. Roy Blunt and John Thune joined McConnell in asking their Senate colleagues not to try to stop the process. McConnell said it would be "terrible" for GOP leaders to have to vote down any such efforts because it would make the party look like it was standing against President Donald Trump.

Axios later confirmed the reporting.

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According to Axios, Thune told those on the call, "It would be great if there were no members that took up that issue."

Like McConnell, Thune had previously been hesitant to acknowledge Biden's victory.

News of McConnell's conversation came after The New York Times reported that Republican Rep. Mo Brooks and some of his pro-Trump colleagues in the House were weighing a long-shot effort to stop Congress from certifying Biden's win. The Electoral College certified its results on Monday. Next, the results will go to Congress, which is set to count up the votes and confirm Biden as the winner during a joint session on January 6.

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But according to The Times, Brooks is considering formally challenging the electoral results in at least five states. Per the Constitution and Electoral Count Act of 1887, for such a challenge to be valid, at least one member of the House has to bring the challenge forward and at least one senator has to sign onto it.

If that happened, House and Senate lawmakers would go back to their respective chambers to debate the challenge, and then each chamber would vote on whether to uphold or reject the challenge. Both chambers need to approve a challenge in order to toss out a state's electoral votes, which is nearly impossible given that the House of Representatives is Democratic-controlled. Lawsuits by Trump and his Republican allies have failed to persuade judges that any election issue is serious and widespread enough to change the outcome in any state.

The 1887 provision has gained attention in some corners of conservative media recently, such as on Newsmax, even though the network released a statement Tuesday saying it would refer to Biden as "president-elect."

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The plea McConnell is said to have made to his Senate colleagues on Tuesday is an indication that despite their steadfast support of Trump's far-fetched legal challenges contesting the election results, GOP party leaders are beginning to publicly accept that Biden won the race.

Earlier Tuesday, the Kentucky senator formally acknowledged the victory on the floor of the Senate, saying, "The Electoral College has spoken. So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden."

Biden later said he also spoke with McConnell on the phone.

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"I had a good conversation with Mitch McConnell today," he said. "I called him to thank him for the congratulations."

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