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Tensions rise as Congress prepares to certify election results

It is a transition like no other with President Trump denying election results and defying the democratic process. In Washington D.C., hundreds met outside the U.S. Capitol in support of the president -- a preview of what's expected to be a much larger protest Wednesday as Congress begins certifying election results. Lisa Desjardins reports, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It is a transition like no other, with the president denying election results and defying the democratic process.

    Lisa Desjardins reports on the latest.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Rising in Washington today, both anxiety and volume level.

  • Protester:

    Stop the steal! Stop the steal! Stop the steal!

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Hundreds gathered outside the Capitol in support of President Trump, a preview of what's expected to be a much larger protest tomorrow, as Congress begins certifying election results.

    Overnight, outside Senator Josh Hawley's home in Virginia, protesters from a group called Shutdown D.C. railed against Hawley's plan to object to election results, going on his porch and using megaphones.

  • Protester:

    Shame on Josh Hawley!

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    On Twitter, Republican Hawley said he would not be intimidated by threats, vandalism and — quote — "left-wing violence."

    He's part of a group of dozens of House and Senate Republicans planning to challenge the results tomorrow over unproven allegations of fraud largely fueled by President Trump. In Dalton, Georgia, last night, he campaigned for the two Republican Senate candidates, and, more often, for overturning the election.

  • President Donald Trump:

    That was a rigged election, but we're still fighting it.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Mr. Trump pinned hope and pressure on his vice president.

  • Donald Trump:

    And I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    He explained on Twitter that he thinks Pence "has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors."

    In reality, though, while the vice president will preside at the joint session, he has no power over electoral votes. Any challenges will have to come from lawmakers. Objections could force votes, but none are expected to prevail or change the results.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will play a key role tomorrow when Congress meets to certify the Electoral College vote.

    And she joins us now from Washington.

    Senator Klobuchar, thank you so much for joining us again.

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar:

    Thanks.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Constitutional scholars are saying this is the greatest challenge to American democracy since the Civil War. How do you see this?

  • Amy Klobuchar:

    They're right.

    We have a group of senators and House members that are literally just doing the president's bidding, instead of respecting the will of the American public.

    And the first thing I want your viewers to know is that, on January 20, at 12:01 p.m., Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be inaugurated. That is because the way the process works, it's set up by an old statute in the 1800s that we know that we have a growing number of what I call coup fighters that are senators that are from both parties.

    We're up to over 24, 25 Republicans who have now made public statements, in addition to all the Democrats, as well as a number, of course, a majority in the House, are going to stand up to this and make very clear — and you keep saying certified, Judy.

    I do want to correct that. We won't be certifying anything. We're just receiving and counting the votes, and then there's a process to object. And you have to have a member from the Senate and the House. But the votes have already been certified in every single state by both Republican and Democratic secretary of states and governors.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The reason I'm asking you these questions is because there is still some doubt on the part of many people, even people who support Joe Biden, about whether or not there's anything that can be done at this stage to prevent his becoming president.

    I mean, tomorrow, you have challenges by Republicans to three states' electoral results. A couple of those, Pennsylvania and Georgia, that would be enough to undo Joe Biden's electoral majority.

  • Amy Klobuchar:

    The point is, is that Joe Biden got more than enough electoral votes, and that is what will prevail.

    And I know that these people, two of whom we know are running for president in 2024, Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, have garnered a lot of attention. OK.

    But look at the comments from other Republican leaders, from Mitt Romney, who was the party's candidate for president, from Ben Sasse, from people like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and John Thune, who is the majority whip. And so remember that. And we know this is high-stakes.

    And, by the way, I just note, with the time here, voters in Georgia or people who know people in Georgia, you have about 20 minutes left, a little more than that, to get to the polls. If you are in line by 7:00, you can still vote. So, we know what is at stake here.

    But, tomorrow, this isn't just going to be a partisan fight. This is going to be a fight between those who are standing up for democracy and those who are literally seeking to undermine the votes of the people of this country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump is saying that Vice President Pence — and I'm quoting him today — last night, he said he hopes Vice President Pence — quote — "comes through."

    But then, today, the president tweeted: "The vice president has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors."

    That is not believed to be true, but the president said it.

  • Amy Klobuchar:

    Yes.

    Well, if you believe that, you believe everything he says on Twitter. And the answer is pretty straightforward. The vice president of the United States, whether it was Joe Biden four years ago or whether it is Mike Pence today, is not the decider. They're the presider.

    They can move things along, but the law is the law. And even if Mike Pence decided to do that — and we have no reason to believe he will — but if he decided to do that, then someone would object. Someone would object, for sure. We have a plan for it. And then the same rules apply.

    We go back to the Senate. The House stays there. Two hours of debate, depending on the state that it's the objection is or the electors are entered into, and then we vote. And that is how we will win, and that is how Joe and Kamala will be inaugurated on January 20.

    He can try whatever he wants. And, again, we don't know that he will. But he is not the decider. We are.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Is there any argument, Senator Klobuchar, that the Republicans are making about the legitimacy of election results in — electoral results in any of these states that gives you concern?

  • Amy Klobuchar:

    No.

    They have been rejected by over 80 judges, Judy, including Trump-appointed, Republican-appointed judges. In Michigan, a state they have talked about a lot, eight lawsuits rejected or withdrawn flat out. In Wisconsin, seven lawsuits rejected or withdrawn straight out. Georgia, eight lawsuits that have been withdrawn or rejected straight out.

    Republican secretaries of state, like we see in Georgia, standing up for their results against the bullying and the threats from the president of the United States. So, something's going on here at the local level in our country. And luckily for the people of America, some of the Republicans in the Senate are listening.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, finally, Senator Klobuchar, what about this argument that some Republicans make, well, there's just so much doubt out there, it's better to have this audit, which a number of these Republican senators are calling for; let's just spend 10 more days auditing the results in these critical states where the results were close.

    What's the harm in that? What's your answer to them?

  • Amy Klobuchar:

    It's the same. It's just Josh Hawley dressed up in a different package led by Ted Cruz.

    And it basically would require people to vote against the will of the people of the states. Not only that. If they think it's so screwed up, which they know it's not, then why didn't they insist on an audit in their own elections, in the House members from those states, in these senators that just got sworn in on Sunday?

    They didn't because they know it's bull. And, in the end, democracy will prevail.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And for you tomorrow, I mean, how fragile — how careful do you have to be, as a so-called — I guess the term is teller. There's a Democratic teller, a Republican teller.

    As you watch all this, how precise, how careful do you and the other people watching all this have to be?

  • Amy Klobuchar:

    I think people should know that it's bipartisan.

    Senator Blunt and I are the two appointed by the Senate. And we simply receive and then report to the joint session the vote. We then lead the debate — or I will lead the debate on our side. And we have so many great senators from the states that are being disputed. And so they will take a major role in this. And we will make our case.

    And so that's really my role. And, for me, this is a culmination of working on election issues in the Senate, seeing the attempts at voter suppression, seeing Joe Biden get over 80 million votes, the most ever received by a presidential candidate in the history of America, and knowing that this, to me, is the last time he will be declared victor, because he's been declared victor, as you know, I don't know, a dozen times, while Donald Trump still denies it.

    And then we head straight to the inauguration, where Donald Trump will no longer be the president.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator Amy Klobuchar, we thank you once again.

  • Amy Klobuchar:

    Thanks, Judy. It was great to be on.

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