Moments into a Trump campaign press conference on Monday afternoon at which White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany charged that Democrats were “welcoming fraud” and “illegal voting,” Fox News host Neil Cavuto had heard enough.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, I just think we have to be very clear. She’s charging the other side is welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting,” Cavuto said, interrupting the video feed of the briefing, which McEnany said she was conducting in her “personal capacity” rather than in her official White House role. “Unless she has more details to back that up I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this. I want to make sure that maybe they do have something to back that up, but that’s an explosive charge to make — that the other side is effectively rigging and cheating.”
McEnany repeated claims by other campaign surrogates since the election to explain why Trump had not conceded his loss to Joe Biden, who has won 290 Electoral College votes to 214 for the president, according to the Associated Press, with three states still too close to call. McEnany alleged that Pennsylvania election officials kept observers from the Trump campaign too far away to accurately view the counting of ballots, and attacked the state’s Supreme Court and Pennsylvania’s secretary of state for alleged bias against Trump.
With 99 percent of the ballots counted in Pennsylvania, Biden leads Trump by more than 45,000 votes. The AP called the state for Biden on Saturday, putting him over the 270 electoral votes necessary to be elected president. But Trump has refused to concede defeat and his campaign has launched multiple lawsuits in Pennsylvania and in other swing states in the hopes of overturning the results there.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who spoke after McEnany, alleged multiple improprieties in the state of Michigan, but also declined to provide specific details to reporters.
“Wayne County Republican poll watchers were denied their legal right to monitor the election and purposefully kept in the dark,” McDaniel said. “Election officials blocked windows and padlocked doors.”
“There are thousands of reports of poll watchers being intimidated and unable to do their job and as of 4 p.m. this afternoon, 131 affidavits have been completed just in Michigan,” McDaniel said, without explaining their significance. She mentioned a Michigan election official who, she said, came to work in a Biden T-shirt.
Pressed by reporters whether she had evidence that fraudulent votes were cast in the election, McEnany said, “Look, what we are asking for here is patience.”
So far, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans have signaled their approval of the Trump campaign’s legal strategy to overturn the election results.
“President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday. “Let’s not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election.”
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 election to Donald Trump the morning after the voting, although she won the popular vote by more than 2 million votes, and the Obama administration began cooperating on a transition, which the Trump White House has refused to do.
McConnell met with Attorney General William Barr on Monday afternoon, and a few hours later the Associated Press reported that Barr had authorized the Justice Department to look into “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities.
With two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia to be decided in a Jan. 5 runoff election, McConnell is believed to be trying to keep Republicans in the state motivated to vote.
Republican senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, whose seats are at risk, issued their own statement on Monday calling for Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign.
Raffensperger, a Republican, said he was not resigning.
Not everyone in the GOP is intent on alleging that fraud explains Republican losses in Georgia and nationwide. Some, like Sen. Susan Collins, who won reelection, are content to offer President-elect Joe Biden their congratulations.
Some other Fox News broadcasters, although not the prime-time commentators and morning hosts, have also been skeptical of Trump’s claims, although not as outspoken as Cavuto. The tweet below shows what is believed to be an internal Fox News feed that was leaked to the public; the anchor, Sandra Smith, on the left side of the screen was reacting in the studio but apparently not actually on the air.
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