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Trump Looks For Support In His Effort To Overturn The Election


President Trump keeps trying to overturn the election, which was won convincingly by President-elect Joe Biden. The president's baseless arguments that the election was stolen have failed in the courts. They have not stopped states from certifying the election results. And yet here we are. Here, also, is NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.

KING: So the president keeps losing his challenges, and yet he shows no sign of giving up. What do you make of this?

LIASSON: That's right. He shows no sign of giving up. He's - actually seems to be dropping the message, let's look for fraud. He's now tweeting #Overturn so as if he wants to overturn the votes that many courts have found were cast in a free and fair election. They dismissed a challenge to the Pennsylvania results without any dissent. But still, this false narrative is having a real impact.

The latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, which was out yesterday, showed that three-quarters of Republicans do not trust that the election results were accurate. Almost all Democrats do. Two-thirds of independents do. So spreading these falsehoods when, in fact, Biden won a clear victory in a fair election undermines Biden's legitimacy in the eyes of a lot of voters, and it undermines their belief that America can actually conduct free and fair elections. And maybe that is the whole point of this false narrative.

KING: And tellingly, President Trump is not the only one doing this. There's another challenge to the election results at the Supreme Court. It was filed by the attorney general of Texas and now includes 17 states, and the president signed on last night. Tell us about that challenge.

LIASSON: That's right. The president's actually meeting with a lot of AGs at the White House today, presumably some of the ones from those 17 states. This suit is trying to block the electors from four key states that Biden won - Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. It's not alleging fraud. It's saying that these states passed laws that made fraud, quote, "undetectable" - so 17 states, a third of the country, two-thirds of the Republican AGs in the country.

Notably, the Republican AGs in Arizona and Georgia - the two red states that Biden won - are not party to the suit. Election law experts say it doesn't have much of a chance. One called it, quote, "dangerous garbage, but garbage." And it's going to go before the Supreme Court, and we'll see what they do.

KING: A few Republican officials have stood up to the president at this point, but most of them haven't. Most of them just been kind of quiet. Is that going to remain tenable for elected Republican officials?

LIASSON: Well, that's a good question. You know, the stress test on democratic institutions that Donald Trump is administering - so far, the institutions are holding up. The independent judiciary, individual Republican election officials in states are carrying out their jobs even in the face of death threats. But it's true. Most Republicans are staying quiet. The process is continuing. On December 14, the Electoral College will certify Biden's victory. At some point, Biden will be sworn in.

At that point, the Republicans have a choice. Do they accept Biden as a legitimate president, or do they stand with Trump? And the question is, is the Republican Party, with some exceptions, fine with encouraging voters to believe that America cannot conduct a free and fair election? And that has pretty profound implications.

KING: What explains Republican timidity, given that it's so clear President Trump did lose?

LIASSON: I think one reason is that Republican politicians who are thinking about their future careers are afraid of crossing voters who support Trump, afraid of crossing Trump since he has such a firm hold on the Republican base. They're worried about a mean tweet or a Trump-backed primary challenge. But it's also possible that they want to delegitimize Biden as the president, and they want to encourage voters to believe that elections are only free and fair if Donald Trump says they are.

KING: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson - thanks, Mara.

LIASSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.