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'Playing with fire': GOP Sen. Ben Sasse tears into Republicans planning to object to Electoral College results

The Nebraska senator said that in private, few Republicans actually believed Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud.
Image: Ben Sasse
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., speaks while Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies on Capitol Hill on Oct. 13, 2020.Anna Moneymaker / Pool via Getty Images file

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., tore into Republicans who plan to object during the certification of the Electoral College vote next week, saying his party's willingness to entertain President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in this year's election was fueled by worries about how the president and his base would react.

"The president and his allies are playing with fire," Sasse said in a lengthy Facebook post Wednesday night. "If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote."

Earlier Wednesday, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., announced that he would object to the certification of some states' Electoral College results Jan. 6, a move that will force his Republican colleagues to vote on whether to reject Trump's false claims of fraud or disenfranchise millions of voters.

"Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong — and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions," Sasse wrote. "Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government."

Sasse, a frequent critic of Trump, said that in private, few Republicans actually believe the president's baseless claims of voter fraud.

"When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent — not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will 'look' to President Trump’s most ardent supporters," Sasse wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had privately urged Republican senators not to challenge the Electoral College vote because it could put some vulnerable Republicans at odds with fervent Trump supporters.

Any objections to the Electoral College vote by Republican senators are unlikely to go anywhere, as a majority in each chamber has to vote to agree to the objection in order for a state's presidential vote to be thrown out.