Some high-profile Republicans have distanced themselves from Donald Trump’s attempts to falsely declare victory in the election and halt vote counting in Pennsylvania and other states.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Trump ally who won re-election on Tuesday in Kentucky, told reporters that “claiming you’ve won the election is different from finishing the counting”.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who spoke at a recent Trump campaign rally, said in a tweet that “taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT fraud”.
Taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT fraud— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 4, 2020
And court challenges to votes cast after the legal voting deadline is NOT suppression
And Senator Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, urged “everyone to be patient” as results come in.
“It is critical that we give election officials time to complete their jobs, and that we ensure all lawfully cast ballots are allowed and counted,” she said in a statement.
Republican Adam Kinzinger addressed Mr Trump directly on Twitter: “Stop. Full stop,” he wrote on Wednesday in response to Mr Trump’s claim that Democrats were trying to “steal” the election.
“The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose,” Mr Kinzinger told Mr Trump. “And America will accept that. Patience is a virtue.”
The comments by the Republican lawmakers were rare, public rebukes of Mr Trump, who has demanded — and generally received — loyalty from fellow Republicans throughout his four-year term.
Most take pains to avoid directly criticising Mr Trump, even when they find his conduct unhelpful or offensive to their values and goals.
Mr Trump’s tweets declaring victory and calling for officials to “STOP THE COUNT” were an early test of how strongly he can keep Republicans in line as he tries to challenge the voting process in court.
In remarks on Wednesday at the White House, Mr Trump baselessly claimed he defeated Joe Biden and alleged “major fraud on our nation” as state election officials continued counting ballots amid a huge increase in voter turnout.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a Trump ally who is an analyst for ABC News, said there was no basis for Mr Trump’s argument. “All these votes have to be counted that are in now,” he said.