On Tuesday, several Senate Republicans who have not acknowledged the results of the 2020 presidential election appeared to congratulate Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on the senate floor. South Carolina Lindsey Graham could be seen giving Harris a fist bump and patting her on the back, and later, CNN reporter Manu Raju said that other Republicans could be seen speaking to Harris as well. Some critics say that these senators know that the election results are legitimate, and should admit it publicly for the good of democracy.
According to Raju, Harris spoke to South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, all of home congratulated her on the 2020 presidential election. This is confusing, since Graham has been one of President Donald Trump's loudest defenders in his fight against the election results, and the other three senators have so far refused to acknowledge the election results as well. Raju caught up with the senators for an explanation.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris returns to the Senate floor to cast a vote today.
Here, Harris can be seen extending her fist to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for a bump. pic.twitter.com/3Mtaaykjpl— The Recount (@therecount) November 17, 2020
Graham told Raju that he is waiting for more confirmation on the election results, and that he is willing to work with Harris if she does turn out to be the vice president-elect, which she is. Meanwhile, Lankford told Raju that he was "just being polite" to Harris, but in his mind, the election is still not decided.
"I haven't seen in her in a while," Graham told Raju. "If it works out and they make it, I told her I wish her well and try to work where we can. We will know here in a month or so or less."
This is frustrating to critics who were hoping for prominent Republicans to acknowledge the election results rather than entertaining Trump's conspiracy theories. So far, there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and the election results appear to be clear and reliable, yet Trump continues to escalate his rhetoric in a way that suggests there is more to his claims than there really is. Many prominent Republicans, including the four named above, have supported these claims, further confusing the public.
When it comes to Harris, the issue is more complicated by the influence of politics and personal relationships. Harris must maintain as positive a rapport with Senate Republicans as possible in the hopes of working with them during the Biden administration, and Republicans are risking the vice president-elect's long-term resentment by supporting Trump's conspiracy theories. Many political pundits are baffled that senators like Graham are not more fearful of the long term political repercussions of this manufactured controversy.