Tom Cotton Joins Lindsey Graham To Break With Donald Trump-Backing GOP Senators

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has joined Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in breaking with his fellow Trump-supporting GOP colleagues in the U.S. Senate who plan to object to the certification of the 2020 election result.

Cotton said Congress upending the result would exceed its power and "establish unwise precedents," while Graham said the effort has "zero chance of becoming reality," marking a clear split within the Trump-friendly wing of the Senate GOP.

A group of 11 Republican senators led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will vote to reject electors from states where President Donald Trump disputes the election results at the joint session on January 6, unless there is a 10-day audit of election returns.

Separately, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) also plans to object to certifying the results, citing claims of voter fraud, concerns about the lawfulness of the electoral process, and the potential influence of social media giants, such as Twitter and Facebook.

There is no evidence of election fraud on a scale that would alter the final result. President-elect Joe Biden won the Electoral College by 306 to Trump's 232. Biden also won the popular vote 81.2 million to 74.2 million, or 51.4 percent to 46.9 percent.

Moreover, there is not enough support in Congress to upend the result. Objecting will force a vote, and those who oppose are set for a large defeat. Most Republican lawmakers accept Biden's win and the integrity of the 2020 election process.

It is the last chance for Trump to overturn the election result after dozens of failed lawsuits across key states that sought to prove fraud had gifted Biden the win. Judges tossed many of the suits as meritless. Trump supporters plan to hold a large rally in D.C. on January 6 anyway.

In a statement released Sunday evening, Cotton said he was concerned about "irregularities" in the election and the relaxation of the law in some states to accommodate greater voting by mail during the pandemic.

Cotton also called for "a commission to study the last election and propose reforms to protect the integrity of our elections...All Americans deserve to have confidence in the elections that undergird our free government."

But the Arkansas Republican continued: "Nevertheless, the Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states—not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College—not Congress.

"And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts—not Congress. Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress's power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the states.

"If Congress purported to overturn the results of the Electoral College, it would not only exceed that power, but also establish unwise precedents."

Earlier the same day, Sen. Graham, one of Trump's most prominent and closest supporters in the Senate, wrote a series of tweets outlining why he opposes the Cruz-led effort to object.

"Proposing a commission at this late date–which has zero chance of becoming reality–is not effectively fighting for President Trump. It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy," Graham tweeted.

"I do look forward to hearing from and will listen closely to the objections of my colleagues in challenging the results of this election. They will need to provide proof of the charges they are making.

"They will also need to provide clear and convincing evidence that the failure to act–in both the state and federal courts and the states' legislatures which investigated these claims–was made in error.

"They will also need to show that the failure to take corrective action in addressing election fraud changed the outcome of these states' votes and ultimately the outcome of the election.

"My colleagues will have the opportunity to make this case, and I will listen closely. But they have a high bar to clear."

Newsweek has asked Sen. Cruz and the Trump Campaign for comment.

Tom Cotton sworn into U.S. Senate
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) participates in a mock swearing-in for the 117th Congress with Vice President Mike Pence, as his wife Anna Peckham holds a bible, in the Old Senate Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 3, 2021. Cotton opposes objecting to the 2020 election results in the U.S. Senate. KEVIN DIETSCH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images