George Stephanopoulos Asks GOP Senator: ‘Why Can’t You Accept the Results?’

Despite Joe Biden now securing enough electoral votes from certified states to unequivocally be the president-elect — and despite investigators finding no evidence of widespread electoral fraud as courts nationwide have declined to overturn the vote — a slew of Republican lawmakers are still not publicly accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election.

This Week host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday pressed one such representative, Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, on Braun's continued support for President Donald Trump, who has not provided proof of his conspiratorial claims the election was "stolen."

Skirting around the question of whether or not he actually acknowledged former Vice President Biden's victory — with an inauguration some six weeks away — Braun, 66, instead repeated the unverified allegations about fraud and wrongdoing, many of which have been debunked, including by local Republican officials.

Noting that Biden's victory had now been certified in states "totaling 279 electoral votes," Stephanopoulos asked Braun, "So do you now accept that he's president-elect?" 

Braun responded: "Well, we've got a process I think we've been going through since the election and it's gonna play itself out. I think that we've got a threshold coming on Dec. 14 that when the electoral college meets … I think when you reflexively dismiss that maybe nothing has happened at all, versus the other side of the spectrum — system fraud, widespread — it's a wide gulf."

"So whether we dismiss it reflexively, whether we would find widespread fraud, there's a wide gulf in between," Braun continued. "And I think that when you just say that there's nothing there, you're going to have half of the country uncertain about what just happened and disgruntled going into the future."

Stephanopoulos, 59, continued to question Braun, saying it was "pretty hard to argue" that the allegations of fraud were "reflexively dismissed" considering the various audits and recounts, including in Republican-run states. The Department of Justice likewise said it had not found proof of Trump's claims.

"The process has played out, hasn't it? … Why can't you accept the results?" Stephanopoulos again asked Braun, who then began to bring up accusations that have already been investigated and disproven.

Braun's refusal to publicly acknowledge Biden beat Trump has been echoed by dozens of other conservative lawmakers, many of whom appear to be following the president's lead, which has broad support among the Republican base.

While the president has not conceded, elected officials like Braun have largely opted for a wait-and-see strategy, saying Trump should be allowed to make his case.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, currently campaigning in a runoff to retain her seat, said as much during a Sunday debate.

Loeffler dodged the question of whether Trump lost, instead saying he had "every right to use every legal recourse available" to contest the election results.

But as those options have failed, one by one, only some GOP lawmakers have publicly switched their positions and said Trump, 74, should accept his defeat.

The Electoral College will officially select Biden next week and he is set to be sworn-in on Jan. 20.

Since losing the election in November, the president has argued, without evidence, that the election was "stolen" from him and claimed that it was rife with voter fraud. Trump's campaign launched a host of legal challenges to contest the results, which have by and large been unsuccessful and have not changed vote totals in the president's favor.

Following the election, The Washington Post surveyed the 249 Republicans who serve in the House of Representatives and Senate, asking: "Who won the election?"

Only 27 of those asked would acknowledge Biden’s win over Trump, with two Republicans falsely claiming that Trump was the winner and 220 refusing to answer outright, according to the Post.

The small fraction of GOP congresspeople who publicly accepted Biden's win were promptly blasted by Trump for doing so, just as he has criticized state Republicans — even staunch supporters such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — he perceives as insufficiently backing him.

In a tweet released after the Post story, Trump said he wanted to have the names of the "RINOS" (short for "Republicans in name only") who acknowledge Biden as president-elect.

Trump and his allies have, at this point, nearly exhausted their legal avenues.

Tuesday marks the deadline for individual states to resolve disputes over who won. After the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, those votes will be counted by Congress on Jan. 6.

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