Republicans hint at limited time for Trump

Richard Cowan
·2-min read

Top Republicans in the US Congress are supporting Donald Trump's attempt to challenge Joe Biden's victory for now but some senior aides say the president must soon produce significant evidence or exit the stage.

A handful of Republican senators have said they recognise Biden as last week's winner. Many more have not but are suggesting limits to their patience in giving Trump the benefit of the doubt.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a state Trump won last week, said in a statement Biden is leading in enough states to win "and President Donald Trump's campaign must produce evidence to support allegations of election fraud".

Portman added that he hoped states and courts would move "expeditiously" to resolve the matter.

Behind the scenes, some were more explicit.

"I think the goal here is to give the president and his campaign team some space to demonstrate there is real evidence to support any claims of voter fraud," said one senior Senate Republican aide.

"If there is, then they will be litigated quickly. If not, we'll all move on."

A second such aide, while noting most Republican senators support Trump's right to refuse to concede, added that failing any surprise revelations, "At some point this has to give. And I give it a week or two."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Congress's top Republican, delivered a stinging speech that sounded more like a continuation of 2020 campaign rhetoric than a post-election call for getting down to business.

While defending Trump's challenge of the election result, McConnell took time to chastise "far-left mobs" that engaged in "summertime rioting" following the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

McConnell also hinted at something far less than prolonged litigation, such as was seen in the 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore: "Suffice to say a few legal inquiries from the president do not exactly spell the end of the Republic."

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Marco Rubio late on Monday refused to recognise Biden as president-elect yet.

But responding to questions about unsubstantiated fraud allegations in contested states such as Pennsylvania, Rubio said he was in no position to know what was going on anywhere outside his home state of Florida.