Republican Senator McConnell says Trump within his rights to probe US election 'irregularities'

In a speech on the Senate floor, Republican leader Mitch McConnell did not acknowledge Democrat Joe Biden as president-elect or Kamala Harris as vice president-elect. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday (Nov 9) said President Donald Trump was completely within his rights to look into "irregularities" from last week's election.

In a speech on the Senate floor, the Republican leader did not acknowledge Democrat Joe Biden as president-elect or Kamala Harris as vice president-elect.

"President Trump is 100 per cent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options," McConnell said.

Earlier on Monday, two other Republican senators, Susan Collins and Ben Sasse, congratulated Biden, with Collins emphasising the importance of the transition that ensures that the president-elect and Harris are ready to govern on Jan 20.

"He loves this country, and I wish him every success," Collins said in a statement. She and Sasse were among only a handful of Republican senators to congratulate the Democrat after he won enough electoral votes on Saturday to clinch the presidency.

Collins, who last week won her own re-election race, also said Republican incumbent Trump should have the opportunity to challenge the results of Tuesday's election, however.

Trump has not conceded and is pursuing legal challenges to the outcome, claiming electoral fraud but offering no evidence.

Sasse, from Nebraska, made a statement of congratulations that was published in the Omaha News-Herald.

"Today in our house we pray for both President Trump and President-Elect Biden, that both would be wise in the execution of their respective duties during this important time in our nation," said Sasse, who has been a Trump critic.

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"Despite the policy differences many of us will have with the incoming administration, every American's civic responsibilities are the same: root for every president's success, work together where we can, and debate passionately and respectfully," Sasse said.

Collins and Sasse were the third and fourth senators so far to congratulate Biden, along with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, a former presidential candidate.

Most Republican senators have avoided public comment on the outcome since major media organisations declared Biden the winner based on the votes counted so far.

Other Republican lawmakers, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, have urged him to continue fighting.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News on Sunday that "every legal challenge should be heard" before Americans can decide "who won the race."

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