[guest post by Dana]
Carl Bernstein names Republican senators whom he claims have privately expressed their disdain at the behavior and actions of President Trump. However, most have remained silent in public. It’s good to know who they are when re-election time rolls around:
Political reporters in Washington, D.C., have been saying a lot of Republicans in Congress privately despise President Trump, but few have publicly criticized him — and likewise, few have publicly acknowledged his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. Carl Bernstein, one half of the journalistic duo that uncovered President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, named 21 names on Sunday night, saying that in private conversations, these Republicans senators “have repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for Trump” and his fitness to be president.
The 21 senators he named include names you would expect, but also some surprises, like Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), and Senate Majority Whip John Thune (S.D.). The other 18 GOP senators are Rob Portman (Ohio), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Mike Braun (Ind.), Todd Young (Ind.), Tim Scott (S.D.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Richard Burr (N.C.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Jerry Moran (Kansas), Pat Roberts (Kansas), and Richard Shelby (Ala.).
There are, however, Republican senators willing to make public stands when it comes to Trump. We know that Sen. Romney has been publicly vocal about Trump for quite some time, including breaking from his party and voting to convict the President on one of two charges, abuse of power. He was not hesitant about publicly claiming that the President needed to be removed from office. Along with Romney, a few Republican senators have been willing to publicly criticize Trump for his post-election shenanigans:
Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, each of whom has been critical of Trump in the past, were the only Republicans to tackle the president’s actions head-on.
“There is a right way and a wrong way for the incumbent President to pursue his rights to contest what he perceives as election irregularities,” Collins said in a statement. “The right way is to compile the evidence and mount legal challenges in our courts. The wrong way is to attempt to pressure state election officials.”
She added, “The states should proceed to certify their election results as scheduled.”
Romney, in comments late Thursday, was harsher.
“Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election,” he said. “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”
Trump, perhaps illustrating why Republicans fear his wrath, fired back in a tweet that Romney is a “RINO” — a Republican in name only — who got “slaughter[ed]” by Barack Obama.
Sasse said in a detailed statement that whenever Trump’s lawyers have had a chance to allege voter fraud in court, they have backed down “because there are legal consequences for lying to judges.” The senator singled out a Thursday news conference by Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, calling it a farce that provided no evidence of electoral malfeasance.
A few other senators have now publicly acknowledged Joe Biden as the President-elect, and encouraged President Trump to stop undermining democracy with a “pressure campaign” to change the election it o outcome:
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) November 22, 2020
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) November 22, 2020
There is no doubt that the vast majority of the senators who have chosen to remain silent have done so to protect their political futures. Self-preservation is a top priority. They are far less concerned with the undermining of U.S. elections than they are about positioning themselves for a re-election win when the time comes. Especially those in tough districts. But what does it say about an elected official who chooses to ignore a sitting President of the United States’ Herculean efforts to undermine our democracy, and harm the electoral system while constantly – and falsely – asserting that the election was “rigged” and that Biden could have only won through illegitimate means? If these elected officials cannot make a public stand against something as unprecedented and important as a sitting president waging a losing battle over an election outcome by making baseless claims of fraud and having them repeatedly rejected by the courts, why would voters trust them to stand up for, well, anything that concerns them?
After all, the futile efforts by our deluded President are not without likely long-term impacts on future elections:
Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor who specializes in election law, called the Trump lawsuits dangerous.
“It is a sideshow, but it’s a harmful sideshow,” Levitt said. “It’s a toxic sideshow. The continuing baseless, evidence-free claims of alternative facts are actually having an effect on a substantial number of Americans. They are creating the conditions for elections not to work in the future.”