As President Donald Trump continued to question the results of the election this week, Missouri's Republican senators followed suit.
The Associated Press and the major news networks — Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC — called the race for Democrat Joe Biden on Saturday after reported vote totals showed he would win Pennsylvania and pass the 270-electoral-vote threshold required to take the White House.
Rather than conceding the race as candidates traditionally do, Trump called the election “far from over,” said his campaign would “start prosecuting our case in court,” and continued tweeting unproven claims of fraud.
Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri’s junior senator, didn’t go as far as the president that day, but made clear that he, too, thought the election remained up in the air.
“The media do not get to determine who the president is. The people do,” Hawley wrote in a tweet. “When all lawful votes have been counted, recounts finished, and allegations of fraud addressed, we will know who the winner is.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, who began his career running elections as Greene County clerk, offered similar comments in an interview Sunday morning on ABC’s "This Week."
“The media can project, but the media doesn't get to decide who the winner is,” he said.
Later in the interview, Blunt said hearing Trump out would be a way to ease the work toward the “transition we want” and the inauguration in January.
But when he said he expected to see both Biden and Trump on the stage on Inauguration Day, he said their presence would be a powerful message “no matter which one of them is sworn in that day.”
On Tuesday, he reiterated that uncertainty to reporters in the U.S. Capitol.
"You know, the president wasn't defeated by huge numbers,” he said. “In fact, he may not have been defeated at all.”
As of Wednesday, reported vote totals showed Biden winning the popular vote by a margin of more than 5 million votes. With Georgia and North Carolina yet to be called, the former vice president was ahead in the electoral vote count 290 to 217, according to the Associated Press.
The comments came as Senate Republicans began preparations for two run-off elections in Georgia that will determine the fate of their majority.
Some senators, like Trump critics Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, acknowledged Biden’s victory.
But Mitch McConnell, the powerful majority leader, said Democrats should pump the brakes.
“Let’s not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept the preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election,” he said on the Senate floor Monday.
The Senate is not alone in indulging Trump, whose campaign has yet to produce any evidence of the widespread fraud he claims stole the election from him.
When reporters asked U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo how he would handle the transition to the new administration Tuesday, Pompeo predicted “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
Trump’s General Services Agency has also resisted giving Biden’s team access to transition offices and his budget office has directed staff to continue preparing his budget proposal for fiscal year 2022.
Republicans in the House, including Rep. Billy Long, whose district includes Springfield, have also been boosting various unproven claims of fraud in TV appearances and on social media.
After the networks called the race for Biden on Saturday, one person on Twitter asked “So, who's ready for Trump's inauguration in January?”
Long responded, “This guy! #IStandWithTrump."
Biden, the former vice president, appeared unbothered by it all when he took questions from reporters in Delaware on Tuesday.
He called Trump’s refusal to concede “an embarrassment.”
"How can I say this tactfully? I think it will not help the president's legacy,” he added.
Asked how he could work with Republicans if they refuse to acknowledge him, he grinned.
“They will,” he said. “They will.”
The Electoral College votes Dec. 14.
Inauguration Day is Jan. 20.