Sen. Roy Blunt repeatedly declined to refer to Joe Biden as the “president-elect” on Sunday, despite acknowledgments from some fellow Senate Republican colleagues who have recognized the former vice president’s electoral win.
“Well, we’re certainly moving forward as if that what is going to happen on January the 20th,” the Missouri Republican said when asked by CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” whether Biden was the president-elect. “We are working with the Biden administration, likely administration, on both the transition and the inauguration as if we are moving forward.”
But Blunt, who chairs the Senate Rules Committee that is responsible for overseeing the election, demurred when pressed again by Bash on whether Biden was indeed the president-elect, saying the title should be applied only after the Electoral College meets in its states in mid-December.
“Well, the president-elect will be the president-elect when the electors vote for him. There is no official job of president-elect,” the Missouri Republican said.
Blunt referred to Donald Trump as “president-elect” in a statement released the day after the 2016 election when he congratulated Trump on his win over Hillary Clinton.
A small but growing number of Republican senators, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, have publicly conceded in recent weeks that Trump lost, even though Trump’s campaign has continued to mount — and lose — legal fights challenging states’ election results with claims of widespread voter fraud. Many other Republican leaders have not acknowledged Biden’s win, drawing criticism from those who say they’re enabling the president as he undermines confidence in American institutions.
Blunt, who previously oversaw elections when he was Missouri’s secretary of state, declined to say whether he had seen evidence of fraud in November’s election, but said Trump’s team of lawyers had failed to present evidence “that was acceptable to any court.”
“I think the system, frankly, was more secure than it’s ever been before. And the president deserves some credit for that,” Blunt said.
Blunt said that while he hasn’t had any conversations with Trump about Biden’s inauguration ceremony in January, he hopes the president will attend.
“I have certainly encouraged his staff to look at the transition now, look at the opportunity in Georgia to help us win these Senate seats, look at what the president can do, if the president is leaving the White House, as he says he will do if he loses the Electoral College vote, to help us win back the House in 2022,” Blunt said. “I think there is a big role for President Trump. And I hope he embraces that and looks at how you move to whatever comes next for him, assuming that this election works out the way it appears it will.”