Mr. Trump has continued to falsely claim that Mr. Biden unfairly won the election because of widespread voter fraud and has demanded that congressional Republicans work to overturn the results. Attorney General William P. Barr has acknowledged that the Justice Department had uncovered no such fraud that would have changed the outcome and the Supreme Court, as well as courts in at least eight key states across the country, has refused or rejected challenges waged by the Trump campaign in an attempt to throw out the results of the election. Those challenges have not come close to overturning the results in a single state.
Still there is a substantial rift in the party. While a steady stream of House Republicans have announced their willingness to object to the electoral votes of critical states, Mr. Hawley is the first senator to do so. He hinted on Wednesday that other senators could soon join his effort, telling reporters “a number of offices have reached out via staff to ours and said, ‘We’re interested.’”
On Thursday, he blasted out a fund-raising pitch highlighting his plan. “We must ensure that one vote means one vote in America,” read the message, which was positioned alongside a photo of Mr. Hawley and Mr. Trump. “I plan to object to the results of the Electoral College on Jan. 6, but I need your help.”
It is unclear how many — if any — of his Senate colleagues will rally to his side.
His announcement on Wednesday was met with a distinct lack of enthusiasm in many conservative circles. On the private conference call on Thursday with Senate Republicans, Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is retiring in 2022, spoke up to make clear his “strong” disagreement with Mr. Hawley’s plan, a spokesman for Mr. Toomey confirmed.
On that same call, Mr. McConnell pressed Mr. Hawley to explain how he expected his objection to play out, according to a person familiar with the call. But Mr. Hawley was absent from and did not respond, prompting him to email members of the conference later, explaining that he intended to force a debate on the issue of election security and noting that the election had left many of his constituents at home disillusioned.
Mr. Hawley’s objection will force the Senate to debate his claim for up to two hours, followed by a vote on Mr. Biden’s victory. With every Senate Democrat expected to certify the election, along with at least several Republicans, the Senate is likely to affirm Mr. Biden’s victory. The House, which must also conduct the same vote, is controlled by Democrats, making certification a certainty.
Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said he was “curious to see” the evidence driving the objection, but expressed skepticism at the effort, noting that a slew of courts had already overturned challenges from the Trump campaign.