'A new movement': Trump's false claims take hold in states

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Ben Gray

President Donald Trump arrives at a rally for U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., who are both facing runoff elections Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Valdosta, Ga. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

HOUSTON – President Donald Trump’s campaign to subvert the will of voters and reverse his reelection loss to Democrat Joe Biden is taking hold among state and local Republicans even as it marches toward imminent failure — a demonstration of Trump’s power to bend the GOP to his will even as he leaves office.

Dozens of state lawmakers, elected officials and party leaders in recent weeks have endorsed and advanced Trump’s false claims, and in some cases called for undemocratic actions to reverse results. None of the moves have had an impact on the election results — and even Republican governors have certified Biden’s win. Still, activists say they see the so-called “stop the steal” campaign as the animating force behind the next wave of Trump-era conservative politics.

“I definitely see a brand new movement taking shape,” said Monica Boyer, a former lobbyist in Indiana and early national voice of the tea party movement. “Was this election stolen? I don’t know. But people have the right to know.”

Signs of the power of that burgeoning political force have been building: In Pennsylvania, 64 Republican lawmakers — including leadership — have signed a statement urging members of Congress to block the state's electoral votes from being cast for Biden. In Texas, the state's Republican attorney general has filed a lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court demanding that other states' Electoral College votes be invalidated.

Even in liberal Massachusetts, five GOP candidates who lost their races filed a federal lawsuit Monday trying to decertify the state’s election results, recycling claims about irregularities and voting machines.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Michigan, Arizona and Georgia all hosted meetings with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani where they allowed hourslong airing of grievances over the election as the states certified results for Biden.

To be sure, such efforts have done more to build political support than overturn results. Trump and his allies have lost more than 40 times in federal and state courts. Tuesday is “Safe Harbor Day,” the federal deadline for Congress to accept the electoral votes that will be cast next week and sent to the Capitol for counting on Jan. 6. Biden has already secured the 270 electors needed to win.

Meanwhile, Trump's attempts to personally persuade GOP lawmakers, governors and state election officials to intervene have failed.