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Many more in GOP rejecting Trump’s bid to undo his defeat

WASHINGTON (AP) — With mounting desperation, President Donald Trump appealed to Republican lawmakers Monday to reverse his election loss to Joe Biden when Congress convenes for a joint session this week to confirm the Electoral College vote.

Trump’s unprecedented attempt to overturn the presidential election is splitting the Republican Party. Some GOP lawmakers backing Trump are rushing ahead, despite an outpouring of condemnation from current and former party officials warning the effort is undermining Americans’ faith in democracy. All 10 living former defense secretaries wrote in an op-ed article that “the time for questioning the results has passed.”

It’s unclear the extent to which GOP leaders in Congress will be able to control Wednesday’s joint session, which could drag into the night, though the challenges to the election are all but certain to fail. Trump himself is whipping up crowds for a Wednesday rally near the White House.

Trump’s allies are taking up his unfounded claims of voter fraud. But according to a consensus of election officials in the states he’s disputing — as well his former Attorney General William Barr — there is no evidence of fraud that could change the election outcome. Officials who have control over elections in their states, including battlegrounds Biden won, have certified those results as valid.

Of the more than 50 lawsuits the president and his allies have filed challenging results, nearly all have been dismissed or dropped. He’s also lost twice at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The effort to keep Trump in office is being led by Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, along with rank-and-file House members, some on the party’s fringe.

“Just got off the phone with @realDonaldTrump,” tweeted newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who is aligned with a conspiracy group backing Trump.

“He wants you to call your Rep & Senators TODAY, ALL DAY!” she tweeted Monday, . “Don’t let Republicans be the Surrender Caucus!” She later said she joined the president on Air Force One as he traveled to Georgia

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has tried to prevent his party from engaging in this battle, which could help define the GOP in the post-Trump era. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trump ally, has declined to say much publicly on it.

Both Hawley and Cruz are potential 2024 presidential contenders, vying for Trump’s base of supporters. Vice President Mike Pence, who is under pressure to tip the results for Trump, will be closely watched as he presides in a ceremonial role over Wednesday’s joint session.

“I promise you this: On Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress,” Pence said while campaigning in Georgia for Republicans ahead of Tuesday’s runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate.

Biden, speaking at a drive-in rally in Atlanta, said Trump “spends more time whining and complaining” than he does working on solving the coronavirus pandemic. He added dismissively: “I don’t know why he still wants the job — he doesn’t want to do the work.”

During the day Monday, more current and former GOP officials rebuked the effort to upend the election.

Former three-term Sen. John Danforth of Missouri said in a stinging statement: “Lending credence to Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack.” He said, “It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical.”

Two current Republican senators, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mike Lee of Utah, joined the growing number who now oppose the legislators’ challenge.

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