Senior members of the Republican party are backing US President Donald Trump in his refusal to concede to Democrat rival Joe Biden, who is the projected president-elect.
Few in the party have acknowledged Biden’s victory or condemned Trump’s other concerning move on Monday – his firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The president continues to repeat unsubstantiated claims about fraud in the election and during the collation process.
The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, said that President Trump is “100% within his rights to look into election irregularities”.
In his first comments since Joe Biden was announced the projected winner, McConnell said the US political system “will resolve any recounts or litigation”.
“The core principal here is not complicated, in the United States of America, all legal ballots must be counted, and illegal ballots must not,” said McConnell, adding: “The courts are here to work through concerns.”
Attorney General William Barr sent a memo on Monday in which he wrote that since voting had concluded, it was now “imperative that the American people can trust” that “the outcomes accurately reflect the will of the voters”.
Barr wrote that federal prosecutors could investigate alleged irregularities in the presidential election “if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State”.
Barr said prosecutors should only look into “substantial allegations” of irregularities, and that “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims” should be ignored.
His decision prompted a top justice department official, Richard Pilger, to resign. Pilger said he had quit in response to Mr Barr’s memo.
But, as the Trump camp accelerates legal action over its perceived electoral corruption, some Republicans have publicly acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney, Maine senator Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska all tweeted their congratulations and recognized Biden’s win. They all have a history of criticising President Trump.
The developments cast doubt on whether the nation would witness the same kind of smooth transition of power that has long anchored its democracy. The Electoral College is slated to formally confirm Biden’s victory on December 14, and the Democrat will be sworn into office in late January.
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