McConnell, Defying Trump, Says He Won't Undermine Election as Democrats Did in 2016

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell directly rebuked the attempt by some Republicans to overturn the election of President-elect Joe Biden and give President Donald Trump a second term on Wednesday, comparing the effort to Democrats doubting the outcome of previous presidential elections they lost.

"We cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes with a separate set of facts and separate reality with nothing in common except our hostility to reality with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the national institutions that we all share," McConnell said from the Senate floor at the start of a debate over the certification of election results from Arizona, which went to Biden. "Every time in the last 30 years that Democrats have lost a presidential race, they've tried to challenge, just like this."

"We just spent four years condemning Democrats shameful attacks on the validity of President Trump's own election," he added.

Congress is meeting to certify the election outcome ahead of Biden's swearing in on January 21. The process is normally ceremonial, but Trump has pushed it as a last-ditch effort to overturn the election outcome. Before Congress began its meeting, Trump held a rally near the White House, during which he repeatedly pressed on Vice President Mike Pence, who presides over the joint session, to override the results.

McConnell said he supported Trump's legal efforts to challenge the election outcome but said the president's claims have ranged from constitutional arguments to "sweeping conspiracy theories."

"We're debating a step that has never been taken in American history, whether Congress should overrule the voters and overturn the presidential election," McConnell said from the Senate floor. "We can't declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids."

Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) arrive in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. Drew Angerer/Getty