McConnell says Trump has right to probe

Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell
·2-min read

Top Republican Mitch McConnell says US President Donald Trump is well within his rights to look into charges of "irregularities" in last week's election called for Joe Biden but he hasn't offered any evidence of fraud.

Trump is still to acknowledge defeat two days after Biden secured enough votes in the state-by-state Electoral College to win.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell said he backed Trump's launch of a legal fight.

"President Trump is 100 per cent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options," McConnell said.

Before addressing the Senate, he met privately with Attorney-General William Barr.

Just a handful of Senate Republicans have congratulated Biden on his victory.

One, Senator Susan Collins, told reporters on Monday evening she thought the president's legal challenges are "unlikely to change the outcome" of the election.

But most Republicans have either said the president's lawsuits should be allowed to play out or avoided public comment.

Trump said for months before the November 3 vote he could lose only if fraudulent votes were cast.

Experts say there is no evidence of significant fraud.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell did not acknowledge Biden as president-elect nor his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, as vice president-elect.

The Republican also took a swipe at media outlets that called the election for Biden, saying "the Constitution gives no role in this process to wealthy media corporations".

"Let's not have any lectures," McConnell continued.

"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 on Saturday after four days of ballot counting.

He leads in two of the four states yet to be called and is ahead by more than 4.4 million ballots in the popular vote.

Earlier on Monday, Collins and fellow Republican Senator Ben Sasse congratulated Biden, with Collins emphasising the importance of a transition ensuring the new administration is ready to govern.

"He loves this country and I wish him every success," Collins said.

Sasse, from Nebraska, issued a statement of congratulations to the Omaha World-Herald.

"Today in our house we pray for both President Trump and President-elect Biden, that both would be wise in the execution of their respective duties during this important time in our nation," he said.

Over the weekend, Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah also congratulated Biden.

Some Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham urged Trump to keep fighting.

Graham told reporters on Monday if Trump loses his legal challenges, "I would encourage him to at least think about running again" in 2024.