WASHINGTON — Texas Sen. John Cornyn said Thursday that he does not consider Joe Biden to be the president-elect, arguing that it is premature to apply that title until votes are certified and legal challenges are resolved.
But Cornyn acknowledges that he is unaware of any evidence backing up President Donald Trump’s contention that the election has been stolen through either fraud or ballot tampering.
“He is not president-elect until the votes are certified. So the answer to that is no,” Cornyn said on a call with Texas news organizations. “And I don’t know what basis you or anybody else would claim that he’s president-elect before the votes are certified and these contests are resolved.”
Hours earlier, Cornyn did seem to refer to Biden by that title in a tweet, pasting a sentence from a Politico story about the Georgia Senate runoffs that referred to “a striking message for President-elect Joe Biden” from progressive Democrats.
Trump’s status as president-elect was unchallenged after Election Night in 2016, or certainly after the next morning when Hillary Clinton conceded, a step that Trump adamantly refuses to do. Later that day, Nov. 9, Cornyn issued a statement in which he congratulated “President-elect Trump…. I look forward to working with President-elect Trump to address the critical issues Texans and the American people have entrusted us to solve.”On Nov. 23, 2016 – four years ago next Monday – Cornyn issued a tweet that referred to Trump as PEOTUS, which stands for president-elect of the United States. The Electoral College met that year on Dec. 18 but the outcome was uncontested at that point.
Cornyn, pressed to explain the difference between then and now, cited the lack of doubt surrounding the outcome four years ago as the key distinction.“It wasn’t a particularly close election as I recall. This is a very close election, and I think the legitimate questions of 72 or 73 million people who voted for President Trump need to be resolved in a public and transparent way so that any faulty conspiracy theories can be discounted and disproven,” he said. “I just think this is an important period for our country to reconcile our differences and hopefully accept the outcome.”The electoral tallies in 2016 and 2020 are identical.Trump defeated Clinton 306-232, though a number of electors refused to follow their states’ popular vote outcomes and the final tally was 304-227.Biden defeated Trump 306-232, and he collected 5.9 million more votes nationwide. Trump, by contrast, lagged Clinton by 3 million.Three especially close states were decisive in 2016, and a swing of 77,744 votes in those states combined would have cost Trump the election. He won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes and Pennsylvania by 44,292, both a margin of 0.7%. He won Michigan by just 0.2%, or 10,704 votes.This time around, Biden edged past Trump by narrow margins in six battlegrounds. With nearly all votes counted, Biden’s combined lead stood at 314,349 in those states, after Georgia’s secretary of state announced the results of an audit Thursday night.Georgia and Arizona are the closest. Biden won by 0.3%. He won Wisconsin by 0.7%, same as Trump’s margin four years earlier. He won Pennsylvania by 1.2%, Nevada by 2.4% and Michigan by 2.8%.Major news organizations projected Biden as the winner 12 days ago. That was four days after polls closed, and once the outcome became apparent in Pennsylvania, which put the former vice president over the top with enough electoral votes to clinch.States are already in the process of certifying their votes.Electors will cast their ballots on Dec. 14.Although he won’t say Biden has won, Cornyn has joined a growing chorus of Republicans who say he should start getting high-level intelligence briefings afforded to a president-elect. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has said that, too.