McConnell does not recognise Biden victory and backs Trump's legal moves

Senate majority leader is lining up behind the president’s lawsuits

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Donald Trump is "100% within his rights" to investigate any possible voting irregularities and request recounts in the presidential race and has no obligation to accept media projections that Joe Biden won. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell declined to acknowledge Joe Biden as the president-elect on Monday, instead backing President Donald Trump’s lawsuits against the election results.

“Obviously no states have yet certified their election results,” Mr McConnell said on the Senate floor.

“We have at least one or two states that are on track for a recount and I believe the president may have legal challenges under way in at least five states.”

His remarks came after he met Attorney General William Barr.

Mr McConnell repeated Mr Trump’s statements last week that all ballots must be counted but illegal ballots must not be counted.

In doing so, he echoed the president’s spurious claims of widespread voter fraud and the existence of illegal ballots.

“Our institutions are actually built for this,” Mr McConnell said.

“We have the system in place to consider concerns and President Trump is 100 per cent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.

“The president has every right to look into allegations and to request recounts under the law.”

The Trump campaign filed a barrage of lawsuits last week intended to stop the count of mostly postal ballots.

And while the lawsuits have largely failed to advance and the ballot counting has continued, the Trump administration has increased its litigations.

Meanwhile, US General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy has not yet signed the paperwork needed to start the taxpayer-funded transition process despite Mr Biden’s victory declared on Saturday.

As in prior years, the Associated Press and other major US media outlets called the election results based on the state’s reported results and other factors.

This has previously been a widely accepted, non-controversial and accurate process as states typically take several days or even weeks to officially certify the election results.

But Mr McConnell insinuated without evidence that major media outlets called the race inaccurately for Mr Biden.

“Notably, the Constitution gives no role in this process to wealthy media corporations,” Mr McConnell said.

“The projections and commentary of the press do not get veto power over the legal rights of any citizen, including the president of the United States.”

Mr McConnell also implied that the longstanding practice of news outlets projecting election outcomes based on the vote counts were part of a possible media conspiracy against the president.

He said the projections came “from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election".

But even Fox News, Mr Trump’s staunchest cable news ally and defender, joined other media outlets on Saturday in projecting that Mr Biden won the presidential election.

The Trump campaign is calling for ballot recounts in various states.

This includes Georgia, where no clear winner has yet to emerge because of a razor-thin vote margin as the ballot count continues.

The Trump campaign also hopes to start a recount in Wisconsin, which Mr Biden won by more than 20,000 votes.

But even if Mr Trump were to win both Georgia and Wisconsin, he would not have enough votes in the electoral college to secure a second term in the White House.