The reason we aren’t talking about this wide margin of victory is because the presidency comes down not to 150 million votes but to the 538 cast in the electoral college. There, the margins are narrower and subject to the influence of relatively few states. So it’s there that Trump and his allies are focusing their energy, hoping to persuade someone somewhere to do something that reverses some of those votes.
At this point, this effort appears to come down to a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) against four states that turned against Trump last month: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This suit, which Trump has called “the big one,” is a mess legally and rhetorically, one state attempting to get a court to reject other states’ determinations of how they allocates their electors. It’s an action that any court is exceedingly unlikely to take, particularly given the “evidence” Paxton’s suit presents, a mishmash of speculation, debunked charges and laughable statistics.
But the lawsuit is something else for Trump: It’s a flag planted in the ground, a locus for members of the Republican Party to demonstrate their fealty to his worldview. It’s the emperor, in the last month of his reign, demanding testimonials to his luxurious attire while knowing full well that he is naked as a jaybird.
That analogy, of course, underplays what’s being asked. By centralizing his efforts to reject the actual will of the voters, Trump is asking politicians to elevate loyalty to MAGA over loyalty to America’s system of electing leaders. He’s turning his allies’ anti-Democratic sentiment into an anti-democratic one. He’s asking for an endorsement of the idea that votes are less important than the determination of nine judges, three of whom he appointed. In anodyne but not insignificant terms, he’s asking elected leaders to ignore their oaths to protect the Constitution.
Republicans are lining up to do so.
There are a lot of likely reasons. Many probably see this as just another in a lengthy list of moments at which Trump has demanded that they clap at some fight he’s having. This is why those circus-seal impressions were always a slippery slope, but the top of that slope is by now four years in the past. Others probably haven’t read the lawsuit and don’t recognize it for what it is — or are reflexively assuming that because the “media” and the “experts” say it’s bad, it must therefore be good. Some may believe the unfounded rhetoric about fraud. Some simply agree with many Republican voters and Trump himself: Trump should just be president for four more years because they want him to be.
Over the past 38 days, Republicans have repeatedly shown that they’re willing to go along with Trump’s petulant refusal to accept reality. But in recent days, we’ve seen a number of legislators seek attention by turning up the volume. Seventeen state attorneys general signed on to Paxton’s lawsuit, some over the objections of their governors. State legislators have enthusiastically argued for the corruption of their own states’ elections, getting a pat on the head from Trump for their efforts.
It’s on Capitol Hill, though, where the effort has suddenly and sharply polarized. It began with a call from Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Tex.) to appoint a special counsel to dig into the “irregularities” Trump claims occurred. This effort to suggest that some serious problem needed to be uncovered was endorsed by two dozen of his colleagues and, predictably, met with Trump’s immediate approval.
Then more than 100 Republicans filed an amicus brief in support of Paxton’s lawsuit. That’s 106 legislators suddenly on the record as approving of the ploy — joining others in the Senate who had done so and encouraging a few other members of the House to clamber onto the bandwagon.
That’s well over half of the Republicans who serve in the House, arguing in favor of a court simply ignoring the will of the voters in four states. That’s 18 legislators from those states saying that the elections conducted in which they themselves recently competed were irredeemably tainted by fraud that, as of yet, has failed to manifest itself with any credible evidence.
It is, in total, some 136 senators and representatives who have explicitly endorsed Paxton’s lawsuit, argued for the appointment of a special counsel to bolster the idea that the election was tainted or who have in other ways expressed support for Trump’s undemocratic effort.
For the historical record, here are their names.
Republicans who support the Texas lawsuit and the call for a special counsel
- Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). Brooks has also insisted that Trump won the election and has indicated he plans to challenge the vote of the electoral college next month.
- Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.). Mooney has called for the condemnation of any Republican calling for Trump to concede.
- Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.). Perry has indicated that he plans to challenge the votes cast by Pennsylvania’s electors next month.
- Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.)
- Rep. Rick W. Allen (R-Ga.)
- Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.)
- Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
- Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.)
- Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)
- Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio)
- Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)
- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)
- Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.)
- Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.)
- Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.)
- Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.)
- Rep. Randy Weber (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Ron Wright (R-Tex.)
Added on Friday:
- Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas)
- Rep. Jody B. Hice (R-Ga.)
- Rep. W. Gregory Steube (R-Fla.)
Republicans who support the Texas lawsuit
- Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). Cruz was asked by Trump to argue the Texas case before the Supreme Court (in the unlikely event the court hears it). He agreed.
- Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)
- Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.). Loeffler and Perdue also attacked Georgia’s secretary of state for signing off on the state’s election results.
- House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)
- Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.)
- Rep. Jim Baird (R-Ind.)
- Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.)
- Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.)
- Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.)
- Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.)
- Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.)
- Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.)
- Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.)
- Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.)
- Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.)
- Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Tex.)
- Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Eric A. “Rick” Crawford (R-Ark.)
- Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.)
- Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kan.)
- Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.)
- Rep. Charles J. “Chuck” Fleischmann (R-Tenn.)
- Rep. Bill Flores (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.)
- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)
- Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho)
- Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.)
- Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.)
- Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.)
- Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.)
- Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)
- Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.)
- Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.)
- Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.)
- Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.)
- Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.)
- Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio)
- Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.)
- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
- Rep. John Joyce (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Frederick B. Keller (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Miss.)
- Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.)
- Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.)
- Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.)
- Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
- Rep. Robert E. Latta (R-Ohio)
- Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.)
- Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.)
- Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.)
- Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.)
- Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.)
- Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.)
- Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.)
- Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.)
- Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.)
- Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.)
- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
- Rep. John Rose (R-Tenn.)
- Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.)
- Rep. Michael Simpson (R-Idaho)
- Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-Mo.)
- Rep. Ross Spano (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)
- Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.)
- Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.)
- Rep. William Timmons (R-S.C.)
- Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.)
- Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.)
- Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio)
- Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)
- Rep. Roger Williams (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)
- Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.)
- Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.)
Added on Friday:
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). McCarthy was also one of three Republican leaders who declined to support a resolution acknowledging Biden’s win.
- Rep. Jodey C. Arrington (R-Texas)
- Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.)
- Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)
- Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.)
- Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.)
- Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.)
- Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.)
- Rep. Steven M. Palazzo (R-Miss.)
- Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.)
- Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.)
- Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.)
- Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.)
- Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (R-N.J.)
- Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.)
- Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.)
Republicans who support the appointment of a special counsel
- Rep. Brian Babin (R-Tex.)
- Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.). Gosar has insisted that Trump won the election.
- Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.)
- Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.)
- Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
- Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.)
Republicans aiding Trump’s efforts in other ways
- Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). Graham called officials in several states to explore ways in which Trump’s popular vote loss might be averted.
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Johnson has suggested he might oppose the counting of electors next month and plans hearings on election “irregularities.”