On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) celebrated Republican victories in the 2020 elections and defended President Donald Trump’s decision to challenge the preliminary results of the presidential race. He emphasized that “no states have yet certified their election results” and noted that the American system is actually built to allow for legal challenges in the case of serious election concerns.
“According to preliminary results, voters across the nation elected and reelected Republican senators to a degree that actually stunned prognosticators,” McConnell noted. “Likewise, the American people seem to have reacted to house Democrats’ radicalism and obstruction by shrinking the House speaker’s majority and electing more Republicans. And then there’s the presidential race.”
“Obviously, no states have yet certified their election results. We have at least one or two states that are already on track for a recount. And I believe the president may have legal challenges underway in at least five states,” the majority leader began.
“The core principle here is not complicated,” McConnell insisted. “In the United States of America, all legal ballots must be counted, any illegal ballots must not be counted. The process should be transparent or observable by all sides and the courts are here to work through concerns.”
“Our institutions are actually built for this. We have the system in place to consider concerns and President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” the majority leader added.
McConnell acknowledges that the election led victories to GOP senators and House members. But for presidential race, he says "no states have yet certified their election results" and Pres. Trump is "100% within his rights" to weigh legal options. He makes no mention of Joe Biden pic.twitter.com/X8rZUXVaOA
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 9, 2020
McConnell also ripped into Democrats who spent the past four years complaining about the legitimacy of the 2016 election.
“Let’s not have any lectures, no lectures, about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election and who insinuated that this one would be illegitimate too if they lost again — only if they lost,” the majority leader added. In fact, millions of Americans signed a petition urging the electors to vote for Hillary Clinton after Trump won in 2016.
“The people who push this hysteria could not have any more egg on their faces than they do right now,” McConnell declared.
The majority leader is correct that no state has certified its election results. Election results are not considered conclusive until the “Safe Harbor” date (December 8) six days before the Electoral College votes for the president (December 14). President Trump has a window in which to litigate his concerns, and he is exercising that prerogative.
While Trump’s challenges should be taken seriously, at this point, Biden’s leads seem too considerable for recounts or specific complaints — like post-Election Day ballots in Pennsylvania — to overturn the expected result. It is premature for news outlets to call Biden the president-elect, but Trump has a rather large hurdle to cross.
Americans should support a vigorous debate about the challenges that Trump and his campaign raise, in order to deal with serious concerns and ultimately put fears to rest, whether or not those challenges ultimately reverse Biden’s leads.
No matter who wins the presidential election, it will be better for the country if neither side fears that voter fraud or other election shenanigans cost its candidate the presidency. McConnell was right to defend Trump’s challenges and Americans should take them seriously.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.