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Jan. 3, 2021, 6:59 p.m. EST

Republican effort to overturn election creates huge rift in party

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By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The extraordinary Republican effort to overturn the presidential election was condemned Sunday by an outpouring of current and former GOP officials warning the effort to sow doubt in Joe Biden’s win and keep President Donald Trump in office is undermining Americans’ faith in democracy.

Trump has enlisted support from a dozen Republican senators and up to 100 House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College vote when Congress convenes in a joint session to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 win.

With Biden set to be inaugurated Jan. 20, Trump is intensifying efforts to prevent the traditional transfer of power, ripping the party apart.

Despite Trump’s claims of voter fraud, state officials have insisted the elections ran smoothly and there was no evidence of fraud or other problems that would change the outcome. The states have certified their results as fair and valid. Of the more than 50 lawsuits the president and his allies have filed challenging election results, nearly all have been dismissed or dropped. He’s also lost twice at the U.S. Supreme Court.

On a call disclosed Sunday, Trump can be heard pressuring Georgia officials to “find” him more votes.

Read: Trump, on audio tape, presses Georgia official to ‘find’ more votes

“The 2020 election is over,” said a statement Sunday from a bipartisan group of 10 senators, including Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah.

The senators wrote that further attempts to cast doubt on the election are “contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans’ confidence in the already determined election results.”

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said, “The scheme by members of Congress to reject the certification of the presidential election makes a mockery of our system and who we are as Americans.”

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said in a statement that “Biden’s victory is entirely legitimate” and that efforts to sow doubt about the election “strike at the foundation of our republic.”

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican, warned in a memo to colleagues that objections to the Electoral College results “set an exceptionally dangerous precedent.”

Other prominent former officials also criticized the ongoing attack on election results. In a brief op-ed in The Washington Post, the 10 living former defense secretaries — half of them having served Republican presidents — called on Pentagon officials to carry out the transition to the new administration “fully, cooperatively and transparently.” They also asserted that efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes “would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory.”

Citing election results, legal challenges, state certifications and the Electoral College vote, the former defense secretaries said that “the time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.”

The unusual challenge to the presidential election, on a scale unseen since the aftermath of the Civil War, clouded the opening of the new Congress and is set to consume its first days. The House and Senate will meet Wednesday in a joint session to accept the Electoral College vote, a typically routine process that’s now expected to be a prolonged fight.

Trump is refusing to concede, and pressure is mounting on Vice President Mike Pence to ensure victory while presiding in what is typically a ceremonial role over the congressional session. Trump is whipping up crowds for a rally in Washington.

The president tweeted Sunday against the election tallies and Republicans not on his side.

Biden’s transition spokesman, Mike Gwin, dismissed the senators’ effort as a “stunt” that won’t change the fact that Biden will be sworn in Jan. 20.

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