Sen. Ted Cruz had a message for Democrats suggesting the Texas Republican should be tried for treason for calling for an emergency election audit: Calm down.
Mr. Cruz came under fire after announcing Saturday that he and a group of 11 other GOP senators will vote against the Electoral College results in Wednesday’s joint session of Congress unless lawmakers appoint a commission to conduct a 10-day audit of fraud allegations in disputed states.
“Well, listen, I think everyone needs to calm down. I think we need to tone down the rhetoric,” said Mr. Cruz on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo.” “This is already a volatile situation. It’s like a tinderbox, and throwing lit matches into it.”
He said “Yesterday … I had multiple, multiple Democrats urging that I should be arrested and tried for the crimes of sedition and treason.”
In a separate statement last week, Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, said that he would object to the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election, which saw President-elect Joseph R. Biden declared the winner amid allegations of voter fraud in some key swing states.
Those allegations have been rejected by multiple courts, in some cases on procedural grounds, and then-Attorney General William Barr, who said he found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would alter the result of the election.
Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that he welcomes the challenge, citing the “concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election,” but other Republicans were less enthusiastic.
“It’s a little bit of a Don Quixote jousting-at-windmills effort,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Certainly, it will fail.”
A bipartisan group of 10 senators, including Republicans Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, said in a Sunday statement that “further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election are contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people.
“The voters have spoken, and Congress must now fulfill its responsibility to certify the election results,” they said. “In two weeks, we will begin working with our colleagues and the new Administration on bipartisan, common-sense solutions to the enormous challenges facing our country. It is time to move forward.”
Former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said that the Trump campaign “had ample opportunity to challenge election results,” and that such efforts “strike at the foundation of our republic.
“It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement. “The fact that this effort will fail does not mean it will not do significant damage to American democracy.”
Mr. Cruz, who said that he would have preferred to see the Supreme Court take up the issue, argued that Mr. Barr was “speaking as to the evidence the Department of Justice saw.”
“The Department of Justice wasn’t administering any elections, did not have access to particularly widespread evidence on either side of the issue,” Mr. Cruz said.
“As for the states, there are a lot of people in the states and state legislatures who have expressed deep, deep concerns about the unlawful practices that we saw on Election Day, that we saw particularly cities controlled by Democratic politicians shutting down the vote, throwing out observers, disregarding the law,” he said.
Such an emergency electoral commission has a precedent — the 1876 presidential results were evaluated by a commission after allegations of fraud — and would only take 10 days, meaning the audit would be finished before the Jan. 20 inauguration, Mr. Cruz said.
He added that “dismissing these claims, I think, does real violence to our democratic system. We ought to have a serious, fair process and tribunal to consider these claims, consider them quickly, consider them expeditiously. We can do it in 10 days before the inauguration.”
A Reuters/IPSOS poll released Nov. 18 found that 39% of Americans surveyed said they were concerned the election was rigged, including 68% of Republicans, 16% of Democrats and 31% of independents.
“I think that would take major steps toward re-establishing trust in our democratic process,” Mr. Cruz said. “And I believe that should be a bipartisan objective. We may be too divided today for that to happen, but Democrats should be interested in Americans having confidence in our electoral system, just as much as Republicans should be.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats in a Sunday letter that the looming presidential vote certification on Wednesday is “a day fraught with meaning.”
She said “constitutional authorities” and Democratic lawmakers are preparing arguments for floor debate on “the constitutional, historical and thematic justification for respecting the will of the people.
“On Monday, we will have a clearer picture of how many state votes will be subject to an objection,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “Our choice is not to use the forum to debate the presidency of Donald Trump. While there is no doubt as to the outcome of the Biden-Harris presidency, our further success is to convince more of the American people to trust in our democratic system.”
When there are objections in the House and Senate to a state’s electoral votes, each chamber will debate the matter for up to two hours. The House and Senate would need to agree to reject a state’s slate of presidential electors.
“At the end of the day, which could be the middle of the night, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be officially declared the next President and Vice President of the United States,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
⦁ Dave Boyer and S.A. Miller contributed to this report.