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Romney, Sasse Denounce Trump’s ‘Undemocratic’ Attempt to Pressure GOP Legislators in Swing States

Sen. Mitt Romney passes through the halls of the Capitol during a break in the Senate impeachment trial. January 30, 2020 (Amanda Voisard/Reuters)

Senator Mitt Romney on Thursday ripped President Trump’s latest strategy to overturn the election results, which relies on appealing to Republican legislators in battleground states to appoint loyal electors in defiance of the election results.

“Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,” Romney said in a statement. “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, another Republican critical of Trump’s approach, urged the public to tune out the noise and look at the actual claims the president’s lawyers have made, which do not include widespread fraud.

“Based on what I’ve read in their filings, when Trump campaign lawyers have stood before courts under oath, they have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud – because there are legal consequences for lying to judges,” Sasse said. “President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence.”

Since Biden was projected as the winner of several key swing states and the presidential race, Trump has claimed he won the election and made allegations that mail ballots provided a breeding ground for voter fraud on a massive scale, although his lawyers have yet to produce evidence of fraud widespread enough to alter the election outcome.

After losing legal challenges in several swing states that were called for Biden, Trump has focused his energy on courting Republicans who control the state legislatures in several states including Michigan and Pennsylvania, both of which Trump won in 2016 but lost to Biden this year.

Republican state legislative leaders in several swing states have expressed skepticism about the long-shot strategy, which would involve the GOP-led state legislatures overruling the popular vote for Biden and choosing electors that would vote for Trump. The Electoral Count Act stipulates that in the event of “failed elections,” state legislatures may step in and appoint electors.

The GOP majority leaders of the state legislatures in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina indicated to the New York Times this week that they do not see such a scenario occurring.

However, Michigan’s Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield as well as the state’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey are both reportedly scheduled to visit the White House on Friday. Chatfield has said that the winner of the popular vote in Michigan will be awarded the state’s 16 electoral votes.

Trump even personally contacted Monica Palmer, a Republican election official in Michigan’s Wayne County, which includes heavily blue Detroit, to ask about her safety. Palmer and another GOP member of the elections board had waffled on whether to certify the county’s election results but ultimately did certify the results.

So far, Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, well above the 270 required to win the presidency, compared to  Trump’s 232 electoral votes. States have until December 8 to resolve election disputes, and electors will meet on December 14 to formally vote for the next president.

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