WASHINGTON ― Republican senators who objected to the 2020 election result on Jan. 6, 2021, are standing by their votes even as several people from Donald Trump’s inner circle admitted in depositions that claims of widespread election fraud were a sham.
Former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr was particularly blunt about his boss’s claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential results in testimony before the Jan. 6 select House committee, calling them “completely bullshit,” “bogus and silly,” and “crazy stuff.”
“If he really believes this stuff, I thought he’d lost contact, or become detached from reality,” Barr said in a video the Jan. 6 committee aired last week.
Bill Stepien, Trump’s former campaign manager, also testified that Trump ignored his advice to tell supporters on election night that it was too early to call the race. Instead, Stepien said, the former president declared outright victory that night ― even before any claims of fraud were investigated or litigated in court.
But that didn’t seem to matter to top Republicans who voted to throw out millions of votes, even after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and ransacked the place.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who was the first senator to announce that he would object to the election results on Jan. 6, laughed at Barr’s statement.
“I thought it was probably good for his book,” Hawley said. “His book sales probably went up.”
Hawley said he stood by his objection to the Electoral College result from Pennsylvania, which he has claimed was corrupted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision allowing absentee ballots to be counted if they were received up to three days after the election.
Hawley based his objection on Pennsylvania law rather than outlandish claims of fraud ― which have never had any credibility ― but on Wednesday he left open the possibility that fraud could have swung the election.
“If you want to ask me if there’s enough fraud to change the outcome of the election, we’ll never know the answer,” he said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who lodged the first objection to Arizona’s electoral results, said that “voter fraud has been a persistent problem in this country” when asked to respond to Barr flatly slapping down 2020 election fraud claims.
Asked whether he regretted voting to object to the electoral results, Cruz mocked the question.
“Do [I] have any regrets over fighting to enhance voter integrity and protect our democracy? No, I do not have regrets over fighting to defend our democracy,” he told HuffPost.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), the former Alabama college football coach, cast his first-ever vote in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, to challenge the 2020 election results. He, too, said he disagreed with Barr and stood behind his vote.
“You can’t say it was zero fraud. You can’t do that,” Tuberville said. “I don’t care whether you’re a former attorney general or just a citizen of the United States. In every election, you got problems. You just don’t know how far it went.”
There was no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 election. While a recount could have potentially shifted some votes, Joe Biden’s victory was so large it would not have been enough to swing the election to Trump’s favor, according to former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, who made election calls for the network.
“He needed three of these states to change,” Stirewalt said in testimony before the Jan. 6 committee earlier this week. “And in order to do that, I mean, you’re better off to play the Powerball than to have that come in.”
The “big lie” is continuing to loom over the 2022 and 2024 elections, with scores of Republican candidates running for state and federal office who say the 2020 election was rigged. In Nevada for example, the GOP candidates for U.S. Senate and Nevada’s secretary of state are both election denialists.