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GOP Sen. Cramer says it's 'past time' to start transition as challenges continue

“I’d rather have a president that has more than one day to prepare should Joe Biden end up winning this," the North Dakota Republican told "Meet the Press."
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WASHINGTON — Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., called on the administration Sunday to begin cooperating with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, even as he repeatedly defended President Donald Trump’s attempts to challenge the results of the presidential election with unproven allegations of widespread fraud.

In an interview on “Meet the Press,” Cramer said he doesn’t think that Trump has exhausted all his legal options, but that it’s in the best interest of the country to begin the transition process.

“These are legal systems, these are processes that are in our Constitution, in our laws. And they’re not just appropriate, they’re really an obligation, frankly, to the millions of Americans that President Trump is a reflection of,” Cramer said.

But he added that “it’s past time to start a transition, to at least cooperate with a transition.”

“I’d rather have a president that has more than one day to prepare should Joe Biden end up winning this, but in the meantime, he’s just exercising his legal options.”

The president has so far refused to accept that he lost the election, a projection virtually every major news organization made the Saturday following Election Day based on vote totals across the country. Amid that refusal, the government agency tasked with giving the administration the green-light to begin a transition has not sanctioned that process yet, as the president continues to raise unfounded allegations of widespread fraud.

Trump’s legal team and other Republican allies have filed dozens of lawsuits making unproven claims of impropriety, and one of his lawyers argued on the Fox Business channel that state legislatures should seat pro-Trump presidential electors in states Biden won.

But those legal challenges haven’t yet gained significant traction. On Saturday, a federal judge dismissed the Trump team’s Pennsylvania case, arguing that it included a “strained legal argument without merit.” The president’s lawyers say they’ll appeal.

Meanwhile, Georgia certified its results on Friday after a hand recount that found no major change in the vote totals, with other key states set to certify results in the coming days and weeks. But the president’s team is requesting a separate machine recount in Georgia, and it also requested a partial recount in two Democratic-leaning Wisconsin counties last week, which is ongoing. NBC’s Decision Desk has named Biden the apparent winner in both states.

There's been a slow drip of congressional Republicans calling for the transition process to begin so that Biden can be ready to assume office in January, even as most have stood by his actions.

On Saturday, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., went further after a federal court dismissed the Trump lawsuit in his state, calling on Trump to “accept the outcome of the election” because “Joe Biden won the 2020 election.”

But Cramer said Sunday that Trump has an “obligation” to his supporters to “fight this to the end” and pushed back on concerns that the president's refusal to accept the election results undermines democracy, attempting to compare it to the Democratic attempt to impeach the president.

“I don’t know why we are so easily offended by a president that is carrying out all his legal options in court,” Cramer said.

“Everyone ought to calm down a little bit, I don’t see this as an attack on our democracy.”

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who is leaving Congress to join the Biden administration as a senior adviser, disagreed. During a separate interview on “Meet the Press,” Richmond called Trump’s holdout “harmful” because it “undermines the confidence in American government.”

“This is the future of our democracy on the line. It was a fair and square election, Donald Trump lost,” he said.

“At some point, we have to move on. But this Republican Party has been very reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes.”