WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - US Vice-President Mike Pence has signalled support for a futile Republican bid to overturn the election in Congress this upcoming week, after 11 Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joe Biden's victory when the House and Senate meet to formally certify it.
The announcement by the senators - and Mr Pence's move to endorse it - reflected a groundswell among Republicans to defy the unambiguous results of the election and indulge President Donald Trump's attempts to remain in power with false claims of voting fraud.
Every state in the country has certified the election results after verifying their accuracy, many following post-election audits or hand counts. Judges across the country, and a Supreme Court with a conservative majority, have rejected nearly 60 attempts by Mr Trump and his allies to challenge the results.
And neither Mr Pence nor any of the senators who said they would vote to invalidate the election has made a specific allegation of fraud, instead offering vague suggestions that some wrongdoing might have occurred and asserting that many of their supporters believe that it has.
The senators' opposition to certifying Mr Biden's election will not change the outcome, but it guarantees that what would normally be a perfunctory session on Capitol Hill on Wednesday (Jan 6) to ratify the results of the presidential election will instead become a partisan brawl.
In a joint statement on Saturday, the Senate Republicans - including seven senators and four who are to be sworn in on Sunday - called for a 10-day audit of election returns in "disputed states", and said they would vote to reject the electors from those states until one was completed.
Led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the group includes Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana, as well as Senators-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Together with Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who announced this past week that he would object to Congress' certification of the election results, they bring to nearly one-quarter the proportion of Senate Republicans who have joined the effort to invalidate Mr Biden's victory.