WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday took to the U.S. Senate floor to slam President Trump and Senate Republicans for their refusal to accept the free and fair election results.
On the president’s refusal to concede, Murphy said: “He's not conceding because he believes that there's a chance he can remain as president without having won the election so long as congressional Republicans are willing to stick with him step by step by step.
And so far, there is no evidence that congressional Republicans are ever going to step away from President Trump's delusional assault on democracy. Senator McConnell said this week that the president is ‘within his rights to fight the election.’ That is, of course, true. The president can keep filing frivolous legal challenges if he wants, we're not going to stop him from doing that. But just because he has the right to mount these legal challenges, that doesn't mean that Republicans here have to support him in those efforts if they contravene the interests of democracy and the interests of a smooth transition of power.”
On Secretary Pompeo’s comments that there would be a successful transition to a second Trump administration, Murphy said: “This isn't just for show. They are going to keep pushing the bounds of democracy until somebody stops them.”
On the long-term consequences of the Republican party’s erosion of faith in our elections, Murphy said: “In the middle of a pandemic that's killed going on 250,000 Americans, losing faith in public institutions is deadly. The president is delusional. There was no voter fraud. He lost. The American people by a large margin chose Joe Biden as President of the United States. And this delusion is not a quaint sideshow. It's an assault on our democracy that will have consequences for the future viability of democracy, but also for the viability of public institutions to meet crises, like the one that we stand in the middle of today.”
Murphy concluded: “The president's behavior and the behavior of Republicans in Congress who support him is dangerously unpatriotic.”
A full transcript of Murphy’s remarks can be found below:
“Thank you Madam President.
“A republican candidate in California by the name of Errol Webber lost his race for congress by 72 points, and yet he is not conceding that he has lost. He says ‘I'm going to the Los Angeles County registrar's office to audit the vote counting procedures. I will not concede, every legal vote needs to be counted.’
“Just up the road in Maryland, a Republican candidate by the name of Kim Klacik lost by 40 points and she is refusing to concede. She retweeted a post from President Trump in which he claimed that the election was stolen and she wrote, ‘I beat my opponent on day-of and in-person early voting along with absentee. However, 97,000 mail in ballots were found in his favor?’
“My colleagues, there is an epidemic of delusion that is spreading out from the White House and infecting the entire Republican party in the wake of this election. And it presents a real threat to this country. President Trump didn't win the election. Every single one of my colleagues knows this. And he didn't just lose—he lost by a pretty substantial margin. He lost by 4.3% of the popular vote, likely around 70 electoral votes when all the counting is done.
“And, while the results haven't been certified yet, this isn't the election in 2000. There aren't any hanging chads, we're not arguing about 500 votes here or there. In Michigan, the margin today is 148,000. In Nevada, the margin is 36,000. In Pennsylvania, it's 47,000. In Wisconsin, it's 20,000. In Georgia, it's 12,000. In Arizona, it's 14,000. Thousands and thousands of votes are these margins.
“Now Hillary Clinton, in 2016, lost by less than the president did in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and by about the same amount in Wisconsin, and she conceded the day after the election. And this is important. And I think that we need to talk about it here because it has real consequences for democracy and for national security. Why hasn't the president conceded?
“Now, it's not because there was voter fraud or because the election was stolen from him. We're a week out and the president is still desperately searching for evidence of fraud. He won't find it because it doesn't exist. It doesn't exist in Pennsylvania or Michigan or Wisconsin or Georgia.
“The president has empowered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to now go out and launch investigations of voter fraud, despite a long standing precedent for the DOJ to stay out of elections if their actions could be determinative. But the president is so desperate to now fill in his mythology, his narrative, with facts that he doesn't have, that he's sending the DOJ on this massive national fishing expedition. He hasn't conceded, not because there is fraud—there hasn't been. He's not conceding because he believes that there's a chance he can remain as president without having won the election so long as congressional Republicans are willing to stick with him step by step by step.
“And so far, there is no evidence that congressional Republicans are ever going to step away from President Trump's delusional assault on democracy. Senator McConnell said this week that the president is ‘within his rights to fight the election.’ That is, of course, true. The president can keep filing frivolous legal challenges if he wants. We're not going to stop him from doing that. But just because he has the right to mount these legal challenges, that doesn't mean that Republicans here have to support him in those efforts if they contravene the interests of democracy and the interests of a smooth transition of power.
“Today, Republicans support the president's refusal to concede, they support his lawsuits, they call on election officials, most recently in Georgia, who refused to bend their knee to Trump to resign, and they endorse the president's decision to refuse to begin the transition.
“This may sort of seem like a sideshow now to the inevitability of a transfer of power, but what's next? What if President Trump asks Republicans here to contest the selection of electors? What if he gets the message from Republicans in Congress that if you're willing to support all the steps he has taken since Tuesday, that you will continue to support his efforts to try to remain in office despite losing both the popular vote and the electoral college?
“That's within his rights to ask you to support a contest of electors. But will you do it? And what so far have we seen to suggest that there is an end to your decision to put your allegiance to this president above an allegiance to the country.
“The Secretary of State was asked today if he thought there would be a smooth transition of power from President Trump to the winner of the election, Vice President and President-Elect Biden. And Secretary Pompeo said there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.
“Listen, these guys aren't playing. This isn't just for show. They are going to keep pushing the bounds of democracy until somebody stops them. It's logical to ask if Republicans have been willing to support every conspiracy that the president has engaged in over the last week, then why wouldn't they support the next set of attacks on democracy that this president engages in? How far are Republicans willing to go in their attacks against the decision of voters?
“Now for the president, there's really no downside to what he is doing right now. Either he steals the election, or he grows his political power. Because we learned in the last 24 hours, that the president is raising money today online from his supporters—not for a fund that is designed to strictly finance a recount effort—but for a new political action committee that he has established that will fund his political efforts over the next four years. The button you click may give you the idea that you are supporting the president's recount, but in fact, you are helping him to amass resources that will allow him to be a major political presence for the next four years. And so either the president is successful in continuing this assault on the transition of power, or he's able to amass resources that help him into the future.
“There's no downside for the president. There's a big downside for the rest of us. There's a big downside for this country. In the short run, the country's national security is threatened by a messy transition. This has been covered, I think well today, but traditionally, the President-Elect would be able to start getting briefings on national security threats, would start to get access to classified information, would begin to be able to do background checks on individuals that he would like to be part of his national security cabinet. Traditionally, those are amongst the first confirmations that move through this body—are the president's national security team. All of that being delayed by a president who refuses to begin a transition and a Republican Senate that refuses to put pressure on the president to change his mind.
“But also, in some ways more insidious, is the attack on the rule of law and the idea of peaceful transition of power itself. The narrative that President Trump is spreading and that congressional Republicans are facilitating right now that the election was stolen or rigged, it isn't being written on a whiteboard that's going to be neatly and tidily erased as soon as 2021 shows up. No, the work that is being done right now by the Republican party to undermine faith in our elections, it will have a very long, very long tail.
“And when the American people, or a large percentage of them, lose faith in elections, when they are told by leaders they trust that elections that are actually held legitimately are illegitimate, then those individuals, of course, will naturally lose faith in public institutions themselves. If all the people who got elected were illegitimately chosen, then so must be the actions they take once they are in office.
“Now, maybe that's consistent with the general Republican project over the last several decades. I've watched as Republicans have engaged in a withering assault on the public sector, the whole idea from Republicans has been that government is illegitimate by its very nature and can't do anything to help you or solve your problems. But that idea, if it is in fact, the goal of my Republican colleagues, to delegitimize public institutions by delegitimizing elections—it’s really dangerous for two reasons.
“One, don't assume that democracy can survive this. If the 45% of the country that supports Donald Trump doesn't really believe that elections are legitimate, I'm not sure that democracy hangs around for another hundred years. But second, we are living in a moment where it's really important for people to have faith in public institutions. There is no way for us to turn the corner on this pandemic unless people believe what leaders are telling them about how to conduct themselves or about how we're going to administer a vaccine, or about why the business around the corner from you is limiting the number of people who can enter it.
“In the middle of a pandemic that's killed going on 250,000 Americans, losing faith in public institutions is deadly. The president is delusional. There was no voter fraud. He lost. The American people by a large margin chose Joe Biden as President of the United States. And this delusion is not a quaint sideshow. It's an assault on our democracy that will have consequences for the future viability of democracy, but also for the viability of public institutions to meet crises, like the one that we stand in the middle of today.
“The president's behavior and the behavior of Republicans in Congress who support him is dangerously unpatriotic. When we arrive in a Senate, we swear an oath to our country, not to our party. And right now, our president and congressional Republicans are not living up to that oath.
“I yield the floor.”