As congressional Republicans split over certifying the presidential election results, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is calling the effort to oppose verifying Joe Biden’s victory “an ill-fated journey.”
Capito’s comments on Monday’s “MetroNews Talkline” and an ensuing statement came as some Republican legislators remain committed to delaying the certification of the Electoral College vote and President Donald Trump continues pushing claims of voter fraud without evidence.
“I just think Congress’ role … is to accept the electoral vote,” Capito said on “Talkline.”
“The Electoral College is important to West Virginia. It’s the only way our five votes get counted and have meaning. I was quoted yesterday saying it’s an ill-fated journey, and I won’t be supporting it.”
The Republican Party is divided on certifying the election results; according to CNN, at least 140 members of the House of Representatives will oppose counting the votes. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said last week he will object to the certification, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is leading a coalition backing a delay in counting electoral votes and the formation of a body to audit the results.
Republicans who oppose the challenges include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D.; Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
Capito, whose second term in the Senate began Sunday, noted on “Talkline” the Trump campaign has been unsuccessful in changing the election results, and the president’s legal team has not submitted sufficient evidence supporting claims of widespread voter fraud. She noted she has concerns about the election and voting, yet said that is not enough for the Senate to dismiss votes.
“I do think we need to move forward with investigations. We need to find out exactly what’s happened,” she said. “But this has moved through a lot of courts in the country, and there have been baseless accusations that haven’t really formulated into any kind of court action.”
The Washington Post on Sunday released audio of Trump pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes and overturn Biden’s win.
Capito described the phone call as inappropriate.
“Strong-arming a secretary of state to find over 11,000 votes is number one, an impossibility, and number two, is not a legal way to change the outcome of an election,” she said. “I think the president was just expressing his frustrations like he always does. He’s very upfront, but I don’t think it was very appropriate the way that he tried to strong-arm the secretary of state in Georgia.”
Capito added she is worried about how the challenge will impact not just the country but also the Republican Party. She said objecting to the certification without evidence of fraud would disenfranchise voters and put the country’s election system into question.
“It would be a grave step for Congress to refuse to count electoral votes that are certified by their state government,” she said in her statement. “At an absolute minimum, I believe that Congress should only consider rejecting the electoral votes certified by a state when there is clear and convincing evidence both that there was misconduct in that state’s election and that the result of the election would have been different absent that misconduct.”
Capito continued, stressing her job is not to defend Trump but rather the U.S. Constitution.
“The 2020 presidential election is over. Our country should unite,” she said.
Capito in November supported Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris receiving national security and coronavirus briefings. She said at the time Trump had limited opportunities to change the election outcome and win a second term.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Sunday joined Republican and Democratic colleagues in opposing the challenges.
“The voters have spoken, and Congress must now fulfill its responsibility to certify the election results,” the senators said in a statement. “In two weeks, we will begin working with our colleagues and the new Administration on bipartisan, common sense solutions to the enormous challenges facing our country. It is time to move forward.”
Members of the bipartisan group included Maine Republican Susan Collins, Utah Republican Mitt Romney, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
A spokesperson for Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., told MetroNews on Sunday the congressman will listen to the debate on Wednesday before deciding on objecting to the certification. Mooney has supported efforts challenging election results, including signing an amicus brief backing a lawsuit targeting votes in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. The congressman in December introduced a resolution expressing support for counting “every legal vote” and investigating allegations of voter fraud.
Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., also signed the brief with 124 other House members. She has not spoken about her plans for Wednesday.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., has not commented, but previously stated support for a transition of power between Trump and Biden.