Breaking with President Trump’s drive to overturn his election loss, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Tuesday congratulated President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on his victory and began a campaign to keep fellow Republicans from joining a doomed last-ditch effort to reverse the outcome in Congress.
Although Mr. McConnell waited until weeks after Mr. Biden was declared the winner to recognize the outcome, his actions were a clear bid by the majority leader, who is the most powerful Republican in Congress, to put an end to his party’s attempts to sow doubt about the election.
He was also trying to stave off a messy partisan spectacle on the floor of the House that could divide Republicans at the start of the new Congress, forcing them to choose between showing loyalty to Mr. Trump and protecting the sanctity of the electoral process….
A short time later, on a private call with Senate Republicans, Mr. McConnell and his top deputies pleaded with their colleagues not to join members of the House in objecting to the election results on Jan. 6, when Congress meets to ratify the Electoral College’s decision, according to three people familiar with the conversation, who described it on the condition of anonymity.
A small group of House members, led by Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, plans to use a constitutional process to object to the inclusion of five key battleground states that day. There is almost no chance they will succeed. But if they could persuade at least one senator to join them, they could force a vote on the matter, transforming a typically perfunctory session into a bitter last stand for Mr. Trump….
Though he never repeated them, Mr. McConnell had allowed Mr. Trump’s false allegations of election fraud and fantastical claims that he had been the true winner to circulate unchecked for more than a month, defending the president’s right to challenge the election outcome in court. Allies insisted privately that he would ultimately honor the results, but did not want to stoke a year-end conflict that could hurt the party’s chances in two Georgia Senate runoffs and imperil must-pass legislation….,
Mr. Trump himself showed no signs of backing down, repeating his false allegations on Twitter just after Mr. McConnell spoke: “tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud.” Mr. Trump also shared a news article about Mr. Brooks’s efforts, raising the possibility that he could begin pressuring members of the party to join in, stoking an even bigger fight in the weeks ahead.