US ELECTIONS 2020

What did Mitch McConnell say about Biden's victory?

Six weeks since the election Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recognizes for the first time Joe Biden’s victory, referring to him as President-elect.

What did Mitch McConnell say about Biden's victory?
TOM BRENNER AFP

Many Republicans still refuse to refer to Joe Biden as President-elect and President Donald Trump has yet to concede defeat, still defiantly challenging the results. But on the Senate floor on Tuesday the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a day after the Electoral College cast its ballots, finally acknowledged Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President-elect and Vice President-elect.

Even after the vote was certified by the states despite numerous failed legal challenges, the most recent by the Attorney General of Texas, having failed in the courts McConnell had held out on making a formal recognition of Biden’s victory. Now with the latest constitutional step in the process of the electors casting their votes completed, McConnell’s remarks state the obvious. But not all avenues to challenging the election results have been exhausted.

McConnell praises Trump’s achievements while accepting Biden victory

McConnell’s speech was a rave review of Trump's achievements while in the White House that ended with acknowledging the Biden-Harris victory. He listed the numerous accomplishments in his eyes “both at home and abroad” of the Trump administration summing up at the end with "It would take far more than one speech to catalog all the major wins the Trump administration has helped deliver for the American people,” adding “President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence deserve our thanks and our gratitude for their tireless work and their essential roles in all these victories and in many more."

He then went on to say “Six weeks ago Americans voted in the General Election. The legal and constitutional processes have continued to play out since then,” but that the electoral College had met and “So of this morning our country has officially a President-elect and a Vice President-elect.” He went on to express how he and many millions more “Had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result.” Before he finally recognized the winners of the presidential election.

"The Electoral College has spoken. So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden," McConnel said. He made a brief mention of Biden’s public service and time in the Senate. He also congratulated Kamala Harris saying "Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female Vice President-elect for the very first time."

How has Biden responded?

President-elect Joe Biden was critical of the Republican lawmakers who still fail to acknowledge the results of the election and signed onto the Texas lawsuit challenging the results. He said "Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy — even when we find those results hard to accept. But that is the obligation of those who have taken a sworn duty to uphold our Constitution."

When asked about McConnell’s speech he told reporters that he had called his former colleague "to thank him for the congratulations," and that the two had "a good conversation." He added “We've always been straight with one another and we agreed we'd get together sooner than later. And I'm looking forward to working with him.”

How has Trump responded?

McConnell sent a message to the White House before he took the floor to let them know that he would congratulate Biden on his victory as first reported in Politico. The response came from Trump in the wee hours of Wednesday morning via tweet, “Mitch, 75,000,000 VOTES, a record for a sitting President (by a lot). Too soon to give up. Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!” Attached to the tweet was an article about Trump allies being furious with McConnell for his decision to congratulate Biden from the Daily Mail.

Although there is still resistance to accept the election results among Republicans fearing a backlash from Trump more Republicans are now beginning to accept the results.

How the Republicans can still challenge the election results

The next step in the process comes 6 January when the newly sworn-in Congress will validate the Electoral College vote. When the Electoral College met on Monday in the state capitols around the US, there were six states where Republican electors held alternative votes, none of which are valid. One group from Arizona went so far as to send fraudulent notarized documents to the National Archive giving the state’s 11 electoral votes to Trump.

If a written challenge is presented during the 6 January joint session by at least one member from each the House and the Senate, the session will recess. Each body will then meet separately to debate and then vote whether to accept or reject the objection, this has only happened twice before in 1969 and 2005. Both chambers would have to vote in favor of the objection for it to move forward, with the House in Democratic control there is little doubt about the outcome.

On the Senate side the balance of the chamber is still in limbo dependent on the outcome of the runoff races for both of Georgia’s Senate seats. McConnell has been making moves to nip in the bud any attempt to raise a formal objection to the electoral vote. According to NBC sources on a conference call on Tuesday McConnell and other GOP leaders warned their colleagues against making an objection on 6 January.