Some Republicans are breaking with President Donald Trump's attempts to falsely declare victory in the election and halt vote counting in Pennsylvania and other states, leaving him without key voices of support as his reelection hangs in the balance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Trump ally who won reelection Tuesday in Kentucky, told reporters that "claiming you've won the election is different from finishing the counting." Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who spoke at a recent Trump campaign rally, said in a tweet that "taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT fraud." And Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged "everyone to be patient'' as results come in.
"It is critical that we give election officials time to complete their jobs, and that we ensure all lawfully cast ballots are allowed and counted,'' she said in a statement.
Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill, addressed Trump directly on Twitter, "Stop. Full stop,'' he wrote Wednesday in response to Trump's claim that Democrats were trying to "steal" the election.
"The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose,'' Kinzinger told Trump. "And America will accept that. Patience is a virtue.'' The comments by the Republican lawmakers and other GOP leaders were rare, public rebukes of Trump, who has demanded - and generally received - loyalty from fellow Republicans throughout his four-year term. Most in the GOP take pains to avoid directly criticising Trump, even when they find his conduct unhelpful or offensive to their values and goals.
Trump's tweets declaring victory and calling for officials to "STOP THE COUNT" were an early test of how strongly he can keep Republicans in line as he tries to challenge the voting process in court.