Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that US President Donald Trump is “within his rights” to challenge the election results, declaring Joe Biden the winner, through the courts.
“President Trump is 100% within his rights to look at the allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
“I believe the president may have legal challenges under way in at least five states,” he added.
The remarks were his first public comments since Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election. Trump’s allies have been reluctant to congratulate Biden or call on the current president to accept the outcome.
Trump has declined to concede the presidential race and has launched legal fights, but there has been no evidence of voter irregularities or far-reaching fraud in the election.
“Our institutions are actually built for this,” said McConnell. “We have the system in place to consider concerns.”
Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, McConnell said that “all legal ballots must be counted, any illegal ballots must not be counted.” He spoke after four Senate Republicans, including a prominent Trump critic, acknowledged Biden’s victory. Before addressing the Senate, he met privately with Attorney General William Barr.
Barr later authorized federal prosecutors across the US to pursue “substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities,” while urging them not to chase “fanciful or far-fetched” claims. The letter to prosecutors marked the first time Barr addressed Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud.
‘Let’s not have any lectures’
“Let’s not have any lectures,” McConnell said. “No lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept the preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last one.”
Biden cleared the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency on Saturday after four days of ballot-counting, and is currently ahead by more than 4.4 million ballots in the popular vote. Most Republican senators have avoided public comment on the outcome of the election. Some, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, have urged Trump to continue fighting.
Meanwhile, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News on Sunday that “every legal challenge should be heard” before Americans can decide “who won the race.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, however, said the Republicans’ refusal to stand by the election results is “extremely dangerous, extremely poisonous to our democracy.”
He added that the lawsuits must be based in evidence and facts. “Joe Biden won the election fair and square,” Schumer said.
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