A group of 40 political leaders — including former Gov. Bill Haslam, former Sen. Bill Frist and former Congressman Zach Wamp — are calling on President Donald Trump to start the process of handing over power to President-elect Joe Biden. But the vast majority of Republicans in the state legislature are saying they stand “unequivocally” with the president as he continues to make unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in several key states.
The National Council on Election Integrity, a bipartisan group that includes former elected leaders, cabinet officials and military leaders, issued a statement Thursday saying “the outcome of the presidential election is clear” and that it is time for the Trump administration to plan for a transition as required under federal law.
The group pointed to the last time a presidential race was contested — in 2000, when the candidates sparred over the results in Florida — as proof the nation’s security is at risk when the transition process is delayed.
“Sixteen years ago, the 9/11 Commission stressed how a truncated transition between the administrations of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush created national security vulnerabilities,” the group says wrote. “We should not repeat that mistake. Planning and preparation for the transition must begin immediately.”
Trump has continued to question the validity of elections in several states, even though he trails by much wider margins than the one that separated Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore in 2000. That has prompted a few Tennessee Republicans who have retired from politics to offer their congratulations to Biden and urge the GOP to move on.
I congratulate President-elect Biden and wish him well as he organizes to lead our country.
After 2016 and 2020, surely our country can improve our election system where results are beyond question — and beyond demagoguery from either side of the aisle.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) November 10, 2020
But Tennessee’s current Republican senators, members of Congress and state legislators have largely stood by the president.
On Thursday afternoon, 66 Republicans in the state House of Representatives signed a letter saying it’s premature to declare a winner and that allegations of fraud should be investigated. It followed a similar letter signed by 30 state senators earlier this week. Neither letter cites specific examples of alleged fraud.
A New York Times canvass of election officials nationwide found no evidence of fraud or irregularities. The newspaper also looked into one popular conspiracy theory and found the errors had been caused by humans and had been quickly corrected.
One Republican legislator who did not sign the letter was Michael Curcio of Dickson, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“Proliferating unsubstantiated claims does not serve the public interest,” Curcio wrote in a text message to WPLN News. “The courts don’t need a letter from me to do their jobs. We have the best system in the world, and it is functioning very well. I commend the work of all state election officials and trust the system. If there are irregularities, I also trust our system to sort those out.”