Donald Trump Jr.’s with-us-or-against-us declaration about voter fraud accusations has riven the Republican Party, forcing its politicians to pick between their president and their own political sensibilities.
Both of Mr. Trump’s sons have lain into GOP leaders and elected officials, slamming as disloyal and spineless Republicans who didn’t rush to back Mr. Trump’s disputed claim that Democrats were stealing the election.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was singled out, came running, vowing to donate $500,000 to the president’s legal defense fund.
Several likely 2024 presidential candidates — including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tom Cotton of Arkansas — also have heeded the clarion call, leaning into the president’s charge that there could have been widespread fraud in the elections.
“This is a premature conversation because we have not finished counting votes,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” People have signed legal documents, affidavits stating that they saw illegal activities. And that is why we need to have this conversation in court.”
Mr. Cotton tweeted a link to a fundraiser for Mr. Trump’s legal defense fund that featured the all-capital-letters headline: “The Democrats will try to steal this election!”
Mr. Hawley went with a civics 101 lesson.
“The media do not get to determine who the president is,” he said on Twitter. “The people do.”
“When all lawful votes have been counted, recounts finished, and allegations of fraud addressed, we will know who the winner is,” Mr. Hawley said.
Democratic challenger Joseph R. Biden claimed victory Saturday after he was projected by all the major media outlets as the winner in Pennsylvania and Nevada — results that pushed him past the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to win the election.
Mr. Trump has refused to concede, claiming widespread voter fraud, and alleging that “illegal” votes have been cast.
That came after Donald Trump Jr. called out the GOP last week.
“The total lack of action from virtually all of the 2024 GOP hopefuls is pretty amazing,” he said. “They have a perfect platform to show that they’re willing & able to fight but they will cower to the media mob instead.
“Don’t worry @realDonaldTrump will fight & they can watch as usual!” he said.
Eric Trump tweeted, “Where is the GOP?! Our voters will never forget…”
Some Republicans have downplayed the voter accusation charges, and acknowledged Mr. Biden as the winner — including former President George W. Bush.
“Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country,” Mr. Bush said in a statement.
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who represents the more centrist wing of the GOP, said he doesn’t expect the legal battles to change the outcome of the race, and noted that some of the states where Mr. Trump has claimed voter fraud are led by fellow Republicans.
“It’s time to get behind the winner of the race,” Mr. Hogan said on CNN. “It may take a few more days for cooler heads to prevail and to convince him it’s the right thing to do for the nation.
“At some point, I think, very soon, the narrative may change,” he said. “More and more people in my party are accepting the results, and a number of people also did congratulate the president-elect, and hopefully the president’s team will do the right thing in the end.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, who voted for Mr. Biden, and Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts are among the other Republicans who have congratulated Mr. Biden as the winner.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania also have raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s recent behavior.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has tried to strike a middle ground, saying that every legal vote should be counted.
“Any illegally-submitted ballots must not,” Mr. McConnell said on Twitter. “All sides must get to observe the process. And the courts are here to apply the laws & resolve disputes.”
“That’s how Americans’ votes decide the result,” he said.