WASHINGTON – Whatever signal Texas Republicans in Congress are waiting for before they’ll acknowledge President Donald Trump’s defeat, Attorney General William Barr’s declaration Tuesday that there’s no sign of widespread election fraud wasn’t enough.
Four weeks after Election Day, just two Texas Republicans in Congress have referred to Joe Biden as president-elect or explicitly said he won: Reps. Kay Granger of Fort Worth and Will Hurd of suburban San Antonio.
Ellis County Constable Precinct 3 Curtis Polk Jr. speaks about his relocated office in the…
The other 29 in office or preparing to be sworn in for the first time next month have refused.
Nearly all ignored queries after Barr’s Trump-defying announcement further undermined the president’s fanciful claims that he actually won.
The list of resistors includes all but one of the six House members who are retiring, seven incoming freshmen elected last month, and both senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
On Tuesday, 37 House Republicans, including nine from Texas, sent a letter to Barr saying they are “concerned about the shocking lack of action from the Justice Department” regarding alleged voting irregularities, despite authorizing federal prosecutors on Nov. 9 to pursue substantial allegations of fraud.
“More than enough evidence has been presented to warrant the issuing of subpoenas, search warrants and the impounding of ballot materials and election devices for forensic analysis,” they wrote.
The Texans who signed are Reps. Lance Gooden of Terrell, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, Michael Cloud of Victoria, Brian Babin of Woodville, Randy Weber of Friendswood, Mike Conaway of Midland, Dan Crenshaw of Houston, Jodey Arrington of Lubbock and Bill Flores of Bryan.
Gooden told Fox Business News on Tuesday that Republicans are “rightfully frustrated and disappointed and don’t have faith in the system.”
“In my district, we’re upset. We see the fraud around the country, we want that investigated. We want that stopped,” Gooden said. “If you lose an election and it’s fair, that’s one thing…. But if the game is not fair, and the deck is stacked against you, then you throw your hands up and say what do we do?”
But in the same interview he all but conceded that Trump won’t still be president on Jan. 21, when asked if he would support Trump in 2024 – a possibility only if Trump doesn’t have a second term under his belt by then.
“He already has my endorsement,” Gooden said. “I hope he runs and I suspect that he will win. And I will work as hard as I possibly can over the next four years to campaign for him and make sure he is our next president.”
On Monday, Wisconsin and Arizona became the last of the half-dozen states where Trump has contested the outcome to certify their results. Biden has topped 81 million votes, the most of any candidate in history and 6 million more than Trump. His 306-232 electoral margin is the same as Trump notched four years ago and called a landslide.
The views among the Texas Republicans range widely. Some have laid low, saying nothing to provoke Trump nor encourage him in his quest to overturn the result.
Others have embraced Trump’s claims, such as Dr. Ronny Jackson, a former White House physician who won a West Texas congressional seat last month with a boast that he’ll be the only freshman who can walk into the Oval Office or get the president on the phone whenever he wants – which may be true between his swearing in on Jan. 6 and Trump’s departure on Jan. 20.
“I fully support @realDonaldTrump,” he tweeted Tuesday evening. “The allegations of voter fraud are extremely concerning, and EVERY American deserves to know if their vote was counted on Election Day.”
Cornyn has come closer than most to saying that Trump lost, noting several times in recent weeks that the president and his legal team would have to prove their claims of election fraud or ballot tampering with evidence, and have not done so.
Cruz, by contrast, has defended Trump for pushing unfounded claims that the election was stolen. Dozens of judges in a half-dozen battleground states have tossed out the pleadings – including Trump appointees who have dismissed the president’s allegations as ludicrous.
On Tuesday evening, Cruz called on the U.S. Supreme Court to hold an emergency hearing on a challenge that would invalidate hundreds of thousands of mail ballots in Pennsylvania
In a statement, he cited a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showing that 39% of Americans believe the election was rigged.
“That is not healthy for our democracy. The bitter division and acrimony we see across the nation needs resolution,” Cruz said. “Hearing this case — now, on an emergency expedited basis — would be an important step in helping rebuild confidence in the integrity of our democratic system.”
Democrats have pointed out the circular logic in such comments. Trump has stoked doubts about election integrity by refusing to concede and offering a daily drumbeat of false claims that he won.
The Dallas Morning News contacted all 29 GOP holdouts. All but two ignored the inquiries.
Cornyn’s office referred to his previous comments, including last week’s observation that “obviously, the outcome is becoming increasingly clear” and one from Nov. 19, when he said that Biden “is not president-elect until the votes are certified.”
More than half the states have now certified their votes, including all six where Trump has contested the outcome.
An aide to Plano Rep. Van Taylor pointed to comments he made on the Nov. 15 edition of Lone Star Politics, a Sunday public affairs show produced by KXAS-TV (NBC 5) and The News. Asked if he viewed Biden as president-elect at that point, a week after Biden was declared the winner, he said Trump has every right to contest the election.
“We want to make sure that whoever is declared the winner is absolutely, unquestionably the winner. I think that legitimates our process… It’s important for us as Americans to make sure that we have a winner that we know is the winner,” Taylor said.
Biden’s transition officially began on Nov. 23, when Trump allowed the head of the General Services Administration to declare “ascertainment” for the president-elect. Biden received his first presidential-level intelligence briefing on Monday.
The two Texas Republicans who have acknowledged Biden’s win are Granger and Hurd.
Hurd, a former undercover CIA officer who did not seek a fourth term last month, called Biden the president-elect four days after Election Day – as soon as TV networks and the Associated Press deemed Biden the winner when Pennsylvania put him over the top.
On Nov. 20, Granger, the senior Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee, said she had “great concerns” about Trump’s efforts to overturn the result, telling CNN’s Manu Raju “it’s time to move on” and for Trump “to really realize and be very clear about what’s going on.”
In West Texas, congressman-elect August Pfluger of San Angelo, a former Air Force pilot who served a brief stint on the National Security Council under Trump, hasn’t publicly called Biden president-elect.
But he’s made several comments in recent weeks that took it as given.
“A fracking ban by the Biden administration is unacceptable,” he wrote on Facebook, where he’s posted similar comments about “Biden’s vow to rejoin the Paris climate accord.” On Nov. 24, Pfluger told Fox News that “we’re worried about John Kerry having a position that’s not going to be confirmed by the Senate,” after Biden named the former secretary of state as his point person on climate policy.
Only a handful of Texas lawmakers in Washington have echoed Trump’s claim that he actually won despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Gohmert has been among the most outspoken. At a protest on Nov. 17 near the White House he declared that “This was a cheated election and we can’t let it stand.”
On Nov. 21, Arrington asserted that it’s “in the hands of our judicial branch to decide if there is sufficient evidence regarding claims of systemic fraud and error. …To speak to the outcome as if it’s definitive at this point would be premature, unwise, and only fuel more doubt among many Americans.”