Following the Electoral College votes that took place across all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., on Monday, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation in a speech that acknowledged the many ways in which President Donald Trump tried to discredit — and overturn — the results of the 2020 presidential race.
“In America, politicians don’t take power, people grant power to them,” Biden said in his speech. “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power can extinguish that flame.”
Biden also thanked officials and election volunteers who “showed a deep and unwavering faith in and a commitment to the law.”
“They could not and would not give credence to what they knew was not true,” Biden said, referencing election workers’ refusal to give in to unsubstantiated claims of fraud, adding that they “wouldn’t be bullied into saying anything different.”
Biden addressed Trump directly in his speech, noting that the president “brought dozens and dozens and dozens of legal challenges to test the result” of the election.
“They were heard by more than 80 judges across this country. And in every case, no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results,” Biden said.
Through all the court challenges, recounts, and other efforts to undo the results, “none of this has stopped baseless claims about the legitimacy of the results,” the president-elect added, calling it “stunning” how Republican state attorneys general and 126 GOP lawmakers in Congress have signed on to a lawsuit seeking to reject certified results of Biden’s win in four states.
Biden went on to decry the attempt to overturn the election results in those states:
“This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials and one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states, and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse.”
Biden further described the lawsuit as “a position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused [to] respect the rule of law and refused to honor our Constitution.”
“Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort,” Biden said. “The Court sent a clear signal to President Trump that they would be no part of an unprecedented assault on our democracy.”
While there are a few holdouts still remaining, the outcome of the Electoral College on Monday has resulted in a number of Republicans, who had previously refused to acknowledge Biden’s win in the presidential election, to finally recognize him as the president-elect.
“I understand there are people who feel strongly about the outcome of this election, but in the end, at some point, you have to face the music,” Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), the number two Republican in the Senate, said, adding that the outcome of the Electoral College vote “settles the issue.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also acknowledged Biden’s win. Though McConnell had held out on acknowledging Biden’s win and supported Trump’s decision to contest the results, he made a statement a day after the Electoral College officially selected Biden to be the next president.
“The Electoral College has spoken. So today I want to congratulate President-Elect Joe Biden,” McConnell said.
BREAKING: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledges Joe Biden, Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice-president elect, weeks after the election.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 15, 2020
In spite of the added pressure from members of his own party to recognize the results, Trump himself has continued to insist that he will seek ways to challenge Biden’s win. In numerous tweets he issued early on Tuesday morning, Trump baselessly made more claims of fraud, including falsely claiming that votes for him on voting machines were “routed to Biden.”
Trump also demanded members of his own party continue to tout his unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. “This Fake Election can no longer stand. Get moving Republicans,” he tweeted on Monday.
However, there is very little recourse going forward for Trump to contest the election results — with the Electoral College votes tallied up, the fate of the election is virtually sealed, and it’s “too late” for any last-minute shenanigans to produce a different outcome, Ohio State law professor Ned Foley said in an interview with Vice this week.
With the Electoral College vote completed, the final step of the process involves Congress certifying the results of the electors’ preferences for president. Objections can be made by any lawmaker within Congress, and indeed, some have stated their intention to do so.
But such contentions require a majority of both houses of Congress to be successful. As Democrats currently control the House of Representatives, and as a number of Republican senators have indicated that they’re wary of backing such objections, such a ploy would have little chance, if any at all, of being successful.
Objections during the vote certification in Congress will do little more than cause the process to last a bit longer than it normally would, commentator Dean Obeidallah recently wrote. “This will likely cause a several-hour delay in the process. But that’s all it will be — one final delay,” he said.
At this point, even a court challenge seems to be an impossible avenue for Trump to seek to undo the Electoral College results, experts say.
“There’s no standard process for bringing election disputes to the Supreme Court” at this stage in the process, Columbia University Law School professor Richard Briffault told the BBC, particularly since Trump’s legal team has failed to present evidence of fraud in lower courts. “It’s very unusual and it would have to involve a very significant issue.”