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Trump’s bogus election fraud claims to have divided Republicans

WASHINGTON – The Republican reaction to President Trump’s baseless allegations of electoral fraud ranged widely on Friday, from a vigorous agreement to harsh condemnations, and between carefully constructed statements supporting the idea of ​​a fair election without any endorsement of the claims fabricated by the president on an electoral plot.

“This is how it should work in our great country: Every legal vote should be counted,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and majority leader, written on twitter Friday morning. “Illegally submitted ballots must not. All parties must be able to observe the process. And the courts are there to enforce laws and resolve disputes. “

“This is how the American votes decide the outcome,” he added.

Mr McConnell’s statement was notably absent from any suggestion that Democrats were stealing the election through an elaborate national conspiracy that included pollsters and the media, as Mr Trump claimed without any evidence when speaking. a rambling press conference Thursday. He also implicitly rejected Mr. Trump’s unsuccessful calls to stop the counting of votes in states where his first leads have been threatened or eliminated.

In a scathing statement, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said that Mr. Trump, while free to call for recounts and to present valid evidence of fraud, “is wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupted and stealing – in doing so weakens the cause of freedom. here and everywhere in the world, weakens the institutions that are the basis of the republic and recklessly ignites destructive and dangerous passions.

While Mr. Trump and his staunch allies argued that the vote in Pennsylvania – where his early lead over former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., evaporated on Friday – was severely corrupt, the Republican Senator from that state, Patrick J. Toomey, condemned Mr. Trump’s claims.

“The president’s speech last night was very disturbing to me because he made some very, very serious allegations without any supporting evidence,” Mr. Toomey told CBS This Morning.

“I am not aware of any significant fraud, of any significant wrongdoing,” he added.

However, some Republicans appear ready to defend Mr. Trump’s position wholeheartedly.

“President Trump won this election,” McCarthy told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Thursday evening. “So everyone listening: don’t be silent. Don’t be silent about it. We cannot allow this to happen in front of our eyes. “

Claiming that poll watchers could not keep track of the vote count, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted a link to Mr. Trump’s legal defense fund, with the headline, in all capitals, “Democrats will try to steal this election.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis even told Fox News that if Mr. Trump was denied what he called a “fair” count, state legislatures could consider “remedies,” suggesting they could order to their voters to vote against the winner of their state elections.

But other Republican governors were much less supportive. Lieutenant Governor of Utah, and now Governor Elect, Spencer Cox, said “There is nothing wrong with it taking a few days to count all the legitimate votes.” Governor Phil Scott of Vermont, who voted for Mr. Biden, called Mr. Trump’s comments on Thursday “absolutely shameful.”

Even Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, in a shallow supportive tweet on Friday morning, made no allegations of electoral fraud or theft.

“Every legally cast vote must be counted. Any illegal vote should not. It shouldn’t be controversial, ”Ms. Trump wrote. “This is not a partisan statement – free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy.”

His words contrasted with those of his brothers, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who both brought massive accusations of widespread fraud. Earlier in the morning, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the baseless claim that there is “infinitely more evidence of electoral fraud than there has ever been” of ‘collusion with Russia’, but strangely no one in the media wants to look into the matter.

Ms Trump’s position also echoed that of Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday night, shortly after the president’s speech, which also did not include discussions of conspiracy or fraud.

“I’m with President @realDonaldTrump. We have to count every LEGAL vote ”, Mr. Pence tweeted.

Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton, who since his acrimonious departure from the White House last summer has become a critic of Trump, has indirectly condemned his former boss without mentioning his name.

“Republicans face a character test,” Mr Bolton wrote on Twitter. “All candidates have the right to exercise appropriate remedies under electoral law if they have evidence to support their claims. They certainly shouldn’t be lying. The first Republican president was called “Honest Abe” for a reason. “

Friday’s statements followed a wave of Republican backlash Thursday night, including some defenses from Mr. Trump.

“I don’t trust Philadelphia,” newly re-elected Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, also on Fox News, referring to the city where voters overwhelmingly picked Mr. Biden, helping to wipe out the early lead of Mr. Trump. “I’m here tonight to support President Trump,” he said, echoing Mr. Trump’s claim that “traditional” pollsters inflated Democratic numbers to “suppress Republican votes”.

But many more senior Republicans have criticized Mr. Trump at least indirectly, even after Mr. Trump’s son and former campaign manager. complained publicly that more Republicans did not come forward to defend the besieged president.

“Counting every vote is at the heart of democracy,” Romney wrote at night ahead of his more forceful statement on Friday.

“There is no defense for the president’s remarks tonight which undermine our democratic process”, tweeted Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, Republican and frequent Trump critic. “No election or person is more important than our democracy.”

Several Republicans noted the absence of any specific evidence of substantial wrongdoing.

“If a candidate believes that a state is violating electoral laws, he has the right to challenge it in court and produce evidence to support his claims,” tweeted Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who reposted a post on Wednesday in which he said: “Taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT a fraud. And legal challenges to votes cast after the legal voting deadline do NOT constitute deletion. “

Without naming Mr. Trump, representing Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted that “if you have legitimate concerns about fraud, present EVIDENCE and take them to court. STOP The spread of disinformation demystified. “

“It’s getting crazy,” he added.

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