HELENA — Montana’s top two Republican officials are still not acknowledging that Democrat Joe Biden won the Nov. 3 presidential election, saying it’s “not settled” and that litigation is ongoing.
Nearly 40 states, including a half-dozen battleground states won by Biden, have certified their respective election results, giving him a 306-232 victory in the Electoral College. Biden also has rolled up a nearly 7 million-vote lead over President Trump in the national popular vote.
More than 30 lawsuits filed by Trump’s legal team, challenging election results and procedures in several states, have failed. Yet Trump has continued to claim he won the election and allege massive voter fraud or ballot manipulation.
MTN News asked the state’s congressional delegation – Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester – if they support Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results or if they believe state election officials who’ve certified results across the country.
Daines and Gianforte, who is also Montana’s governor-elect, would issue only statements that were virtually identical.
They said the election is not settled, that litigation is ongoing, and that the Electoral College doesn’t vote until Dec. 14.
In an appearance Wednesday on Fox News, Daines mentioned that “whistleblowers” have come forward about alleged ballot manipulation in some battleground states and said the Trump campaign is continuing to “expose voting irregularities,” without specifying what those may be.
“That is healthy for our democracy that we get to the bottom of what’s going on here in 2020,” he told Fox News.
Tester told MTN News this week that “it’s a bit discouraging” that many of his GOP colleagues in the Senate won’t acknowledge that Biden won the election and called Trump’s unsubstantiated attacks on the election’s integrity “incredibly dangerous.”
“I think what the president is doing right now really does undermine the democracy of this country,” he said. “This is the greatest country in the world because we’ve had people that have had common sense in the White House. I don’t see a lot of common sense coming out of the White House right now.”
Trump also has been pressuring lawmakers in some states, where he lost, to appoint electors who will vote for him, rather than Biden.
U.S. Attorney Bill Barr said this week that the Justice Department has so far found no evidence of voter fraud at a level that would change any presidential election results.
And Chris Krebs, the former head of cybersecurity for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has called the election the most secure in U.S. history.
So far, only one prominent Montana Republican has publicly acknowledged Biden’s victory: Outgoing Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who is Montana’s chief election officer.
In a tweet four days after the election, Stapleton complimented the president on his accomplishments – but said his time is now over.
“Tip your hat, bite your lip, and congratulate Joe Biden,” Stapleton wrote on Nov. 7.