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Manchin urges Trump to accept apparent defeat; other WV Congress members back president after false claims of stolen election

The Herald-Dispatch

With Joe Biden poised to win the presidency, some of West Virginia’s Republican congressional House representatives defended President Donald Trump even after he falsely declared victory and made baseless claims that the election was stolen, while West Virginia’s lone Democratic representative in Congress urged Trump to go along with an “orderly” transfer of power.

U.S. Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller, Republicans who notched decisive electoral victories of their own Tuesday night, supported Trump as the counting of mail-in ballots in several swing states gradually revealed an edge for Biden that appeared as of 6:50 p.m. Friday to be increasingly insurmountable for the incumbent, with Decision Desk HQ becoming the first outlet to call the race for Biden Friday morning.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Friday called for Trump to step aside if Biden secures enough electoral votes to clinch the presidency, citing the lack of evidence of any voter fraud skewing results in the former vice president’s favor.


“The president has to understand there will be a transfer, no doubt about it,” Manchin said. “He can make it as sweet and nice and peaceful as he wants to or as ugly as he wants to. It’s up to him right now. But there will be a transfer.”

Manchin noted a net loss of seats for Democrats in the House and that his party also underperformed in Senate races, with Republicans set to hold onto their majority in that chamber unless the Democrats win two runoff races in Georgia in January.

“So if there was fraud, don’t you think that wouldn’t have happened that way?” Manchin said.

Trump falsely claimed that Pennsylvania Democrats tried to stop Republicans from being poll watchers. The Trump campaign did sue to allow observers to get closer than guidelines previously allowed in Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court granted that request, according to the Associated Press and other news outlets, which have also reported that the Trump campaign has not been denied access to observe vote counting in Detroit, contrary to a false claim made by the president.

But Mooney in a statement late Thursday lamented what he said was a “lack of transparency” in some states that “disgraces the integrity of our national election,” citing “widespread distrust” and alluding to Trump’s false claims of poll watcher suppression.

“I agree with President Trump that every legal vote must be counted to ensure the integrity of our election process,” Mooney said, although the Trump campaign has not produced evidence to back the suggestion that illegal votes are being counted.

Mooney criticized pre-election polls that appeared to overestimate support for Biden in states that he both won and lost, arguing that they result in discouraging Republicans from voting.

In a statement Friday, Miller said that Trump “has earned four more years in the White House.”

“Americans deserve fairness and transparency in our election process to ensure the ongoing strength of our democracy,” Miller said. “Every single legal vote must be counted.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., could not be reached for comment.

Other GOP senators such as Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mitt Romney of Utah have denounced Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that Democrats are trying to “steal” the election, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., echoed Trump’s claim and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to criticize Trump, calling only for every legal vote to be counted and “any illegally submitted ballots” to be dismissed.

Biden had not declared victory as of 6:50 p.m. Friday but has observed that he is “on track” to win the presidency. Manchin praised Biden for striking a bipartisan tone, noting that Biden has said he will govern “as an American president.”

“I’m hopeful that Joe Biden will be able to lead us through a difficult time and unite us again,” Manchin said.

But a transfer of power would have to come first.

“I’m praying that the president will come to his better senses and his better judgment and maybe better angel inside of him for the betterment of our country if the vote is finally tallied and it’s very clear and evident, rather than contesting and keep fighting court battles … understand that we’ve got to move on,” Manchin said.