Ahead of Election Day, Donald Trump and his team used some autocratic rhetoric about the 2020 cycle, which led Politico to report that some Republican officials "privately disgusted" by the president's election-related threats. They just weren't willing to say so on the record.
"[I]t is shocking but not surprising that they aren't speaking up now, even when the integrity of America's electoral system is under attack by their party's leader," the article noted, adding, "Efforts to solicit on the record comment from a broad range of party leaders Monday were met with indifference."
This, of course, was before the election. Last night, the president kept the offensive against his own country's system of elections going with a late-night White House speech in which he falsely claimed victory, followed by a series of tweets in which Trump suggested there was something nefarious about counting early and mail-in ballots.
Any chance Republicans might speak up on this, now that Election Day is over? Oddly enough, yes. NBC News reported this afternoon:
Some Republicans are not falling in line behind President Donald Trump's attempts to falsely declare victory and seek to halt some vote-counting in the presidential race, with several GOP leaders expressing rare public rebukes of the president.
There was some evidence of this overnight, with pushback from former GOP officials who are now working in media. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), for example, conceded on CNN last night that Trump was "wrong" to misuse provocative words like "fraud" in reference to ballots. Around the same time, former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), a Trump ally, also acknowledged on ABC that he "disagreed" with the president's claims.
But current GOP officials spoke out, too. In response to a misguided Trump tweet, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill) responded, "Stop. Full stop. The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose. And America will accept that."
Senate Republicans got in on the mix, too. From TPM's report:
"Taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT fraud," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told the Salt Lake Tribune that "it's best for everyone to step back from the spin and allow the vote counters to do their job." Then Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) became the third Republican senator to speak out. "Under our Constitution, state legislatures set the rules & states administer our elections. We should respect that process and ensure that all ballots cast in accordance with state laws are counted," he said in a statement. "It's that simple."
This afternoon, Spencer Cox (R), Utah's governor-elect, added on Twitter, "Just a little reminder that there is nothing nefarious about it taking a few days to count all legitimate votes."
It's worth emphasizing that many of these Republicans pushed back against Trump's talking points without explicitly making it clear that their party's president was peddling nonsense. But in context, it nevertheless seemed like a step in the right direction to see Trump face some indirect pushback from his ostensible allies.