Mitch McConnell has now finally conceded what he has refused to admit for so long: Joe Biden will be the next president.

“The electoral college has spoken,” the Senate majority leader said Tuesday morning. “So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.”

But McConnell has a problem: President Trump disagrees. Trump and his propagandists still hope to steal the election when Congress counts the electoral votes. The plan is that if a few GOP state legislatures send pro-Trump electors, a few diehard Trumpists in Congress will object to the Biden electors in those states, and Congress will end up counting the Trump ones … somehow.

This will all-but-certainly fail, for a host of reasons. But McConnell fears that one or more GOP senators might go along with the scheme. So he is pleading with them to refrain, as the New York Times reports:

On a private call with Senate Republicans, Mr. McConnell and his top deputies pleaded with their colleagues not to join members of the House in objecting to the election results on Jan. 6, when Congress meets to ratify the Electoral College’s decision, according to three people familiar with the remarks.

If no senator objects to the Biden electors from any given state, and only a handful of Trump dead-enders in the House do, the objections will go nowhere, because they must have the support of at least one senator. But if they do have that support, then both chambers must consider the objections and then vote on them.

Why might McConnell want to avoid this scenario? Well, as Politico’s Jake Sherman reports, McConnell said on the call that this would require Senate Republicans to vote down those objections and that this is a “terrible vote,” because it would make Republicans appear anti-Trump.

Let’s be clear: McConnell fears this scenario because he doesn’t want Republican senators to have to vote against the idea that millions of votes should be overturned so Trump can be kept in power illegitimately. This is what anti-Trump really means.

The scenario McConnell prefers, in which no Republican senator objects to any Biden electors, is not ideal, to be sure, since Trump and his loyalists will no doubt rage at them for failing to join his scheme. But it’s better than having to actively vote against it.

At first glance, this looks like more garden-variety GOP cowardice when it comes to Trump. But if you unpack it a bit, it demonstrates something considerably darker.

First, it’s important to note that McConnell has spent weeks refusing to acknowledge Biden’s victory, for a purpose that’s purely instrumental: Because he has thought this was necessary to keep Republican voters energized heading into the Georgia runoffs.

And so, now that Biden’s victory is so official that it really can no longer be denied, here you have McConnell begging fellow Republicans not to feed the very beast that McConnell himself has been feeding for weeks, for incredibly cynical reasons.

That’s bad enough, but it gets still worse.

What McConnell almost certainly fears in the dreaded scenario — in which Senate Republicans vote down an objection to Biden electors from a given state — is that Republicans will be cast as stab-in-the-back betrayers of Trump.

For as long as he can, Trump will try to keep alive the mythos that the election was stolen from him and that quisling Republicans didn’t fight hard enough to prevent this horrifying travesty of injustice. A vote like this will stand as the final betrayal of the Lost Cause of Trumpism, a day that will live in bloody infamy in the Trumpist mythology.

McConnell is trying to prevent any and all Senate Republicans from endorsing the idea that Trump actually won the election, but not because he thinks GOP voters deserve the basic respect of being told the truth. With some notable exceptions, most Republicans, McConnell included, treated it as simply unthinkable that they would tell their voters the truth about Trump’s loss until they absolutely had to.

After cynically feeding the lie that Biden wasn’t the clear winner for as long as he personally could, McConnell is only trying to get fellow Republicans to refrain from further feeding that beast because the alternative will give birth to a beast that’s even worse. Their contempt for their own voters is bottomless.

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