WASHINGTON — Since President Trump was elected, his relationships with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have largely fallen into one in all two classes: the unbreakable bond together with his most ardent followers, who defend him in any respect prices, and the tenuous, strained alliance with the remainder, who share his agenda however typically cringe privately at his language and techniques.
Neither group is especially effectively fitted to the chore of making an attempt to persuade Mr. Trump, who refuses to concede the election, that it’s time to step apart — or on the very least, to cease spreading claims in regards to the integrity of the nation’s elections which are opposite to appreciable proof. And there’s little likelihood that Mr. Trump, who has been perplexed and typically enraged by the Republican institutionalists who may usually be anticipated to play such a task, would pay attention in the event that they did.
The dynamic helps clarify why, days after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner of the election, even Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the bulk chief, was unwilling to acknowledge the consequence. Instead, senators have tiptoed round — or in some instances blindly run previous — the truth of Mr. Trump’s loss, and the dearth of proof to recommend widespread election fraud or improprieties that would reverse that consequence.
“There is no bipartisanship to speak of, in terms of how many members are willing to speak up — and would it matter to him? Would he listen?” mentioned William S. Cohen, a former senator and House member from Maine who was one of many first Republicans to break from his celebration and assist the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon. “Trump doesn’t care a whit about the House or Senate, and he rules by fear. He still can inflame his supporters — there are 70 million out there. He still carries that fear factor.”
By Tuesday, a membership of only some Republican senators recognized for his or her distaste for Mr. Trump — Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — had acknowledged Mr. Biden’s victory.
In occasions previous, lawmakers might need marched down to the White House to degree with the president of their very own celebration about political actuality. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence went up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and stored Mr. Trump’s false narrative alive, telling Republican senators over lunch that he and the president would maintain preventing the election outcomes and detailing the authorized strikes they have been taking in states across the nation to problem the result.
Mr. McConnell, who’s poised to be the highest Republican in Washington in the course of the coming Biden administration, continued to decline to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory and performed down Mr. Trump’s denial of his defeat and evidence-free claims of election fraud.
“I think we ought to quit all the hand-wringing and not act like this is extraordinary,” Mr. McConnell advised reporters after the luncheon. “We’re going to get through this period and we’ll swear in the winner” in January, he mentioned, “just like we have every four years.”
Far from making an attempt to affect the president’s considering, most Republicans have gone out of their manner to keep away from seeming to dictate what he ought to do.
In an intensive assertion on Tuesday, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio avoided recognizing Mr. Biden’s victory and argued that Mr. Trump “has every right to insist that all legally cast ballots are counted.”
But in a sign of how fastidiously some Republicans are treading amid the president’s outlandish accusations, Mr. Portman added, “At the same time, the Trump campaign has an obligation to come forward with evidence to support any allegations of election fraud.”
Some of Mr. Trump’s acolytes, however, have rushed to advance his baseless theories of fraud. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia, each of whom are dealing with runoff elections in January, demanded the resignation of their state’s high election official, a fellow Republican, after he mentioned there was no proof of widespread fraud within the state’s elections.
Asked by a reporter if he had congratulated Mr. Biden on his victory, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, replied that he had not.
“Nothing to congratulate him about,” Mr. Johnson mentioned tersely.
Mr. Biden, talking at a information convention in Wilmington, Del., disregarded the chilly response he had obtained so removed from congressional Republicans — however not earlier than working in a jab on the president, calling his refusal to concede “an embarrassment, quite frankly.”
“I haven’t had a chance to speak to Mitch,” he mentioned of Mr. McConnell, with whom he has a decades-long relationship. “My expectation is that I will in the not-too-distant future. The whole G.O.P. has been put in a position, with a few notable exceptions, of being mildly intimidated by the sitting president.”
In 1974, as Mr. Nixon confronted the Watergate scandal and the robust probability of impeachment and conviction, a cadre of highly effective Republican lawmakers went to the White House and one after the other, naming lawmakers in their very own celebration who have been ready to vote to convict him, advised him it was time to go. The message was clear, and Mr. Nixon introduced his resignation the subsequent day.
Expect no such reckoning for Mr. Trump, mentioned Timothy Naftali, the founding director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum and a professor at New York University.
“It’s very difficult for Republicans whose leader got 71 million votes, the most by any Republican standard-bearer ever, to simply just turn their backs on him,” Mr. Naftali mentioned. “The issue is now not so much Trump as loyalty to Trumpism. And I think that’s why you see the contortions now. If you’re a Republican and you get this wrong, you’re going to be primaried out.”
There is a extra speedy concern for the celebration, too. With Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler dealing with elections whose outcomes are seemingly to decide management of the Senate, Republicans are reluctant to do something to dampen the passion of their conservative base. Any trace that leaders have been prodding Mr. Trump to exit the stage might provoke a Twitter rampage from the president that would flip his supporters towards the celebration at a important time.
“The Republican Party hemorrhaged seats in 1974 after Watergate, after the near-impeachment of a Republican president,” Mr. Naftali mentioned, whereas Republican lawmakers seem on observe to acquire House seats this 12 months after Democrats’ impeachment of Mr. Trump. “So what is the lesson for politicos? The lesson is not to run away from Trump.”
Still, some Republicans have argued in current days that it’s essential for members of their celebration to push again in a measured manner towards the president’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.
On Monday, 31 former Republican members of Congress — lots of them outspoken critics of the president — denounced Mr. Trump’s allegations in an open letter that known as on him to settle for the election outcomes.
“We believe the statements by President Trump alleging fraud in the election are efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the election and are unacceptable,” wrote the group, led by former Representative Tom Coleman of Missouri. “Every vote should be counted and the final outcome accepted by the participants because public confidence in the outcome of our elections is a bedrock of our democracy.”
Barbara Comstock, a Republican former House member from Virginia who signed the letter, mentioned she did so as a result of skeptical voters “have got to come to the understanding and see that this isn’t real.”
Her former colleagues, Ms. Comstock added, had largely come to the conclusion privately that Mr. Trump’s authorized challenges “aren’t going anywhere.”
“Their facade is crumbling,” she mentioned. “It’s inevitably going where it’s going. We’ve just got to responsibly explain to people why this isn’t true.”
Luke Broadwater, Emily Cochrane and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.