Senators Tom Cotton and Mitch McConnell.
A new book says Sens. Cotton and McConnell plotted to undermine Trump’s election fraud claims.
Journalist David Drucker described how both privately maneuvered to ensure Trump didn’t steal the election.
Cotton brought forward a plan to announce that he opposed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, Drucker said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell secretly plotted with Sen. Tom Cotton, to prevent other senators from working with former President Donald Trump to reverse Joe Biden’s election victory, a new book has claimed.
A book by journalist David Drucker, an excerpt of which was published by Vanity Fair, describes how Sen. Cotton and McConnell worked together in December 2020 and January 2021 to ensure that Joe Biden’s election victory was certified as Trump worked to overturn the result.
Both Cotton – a vocal Trump supporter – and McConnell publicly objected to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election at the time, but the report is significant because it describes in new detail how both senators tried behind the scenes to maneuver against the president, to whom they were publicly loyal.
Trump had spent considerable political effort after November’s election trying to persuade Republican senators to object to electoral votes in swing states which had secured Biden the presidency.
According to Drucker, Cotton and McConnell realized that Trump wanted to try win enough support from Republican lawmakers to oppose the certification of the Electoral College vote on January 6, thereby overturning Biden’s victory.
Cotton then ordered aides to prepare a memorandum which made clear that Vice President Mike Pence did not, as Trump claimed, have the power to overturn the Electoral College results, Drucker said.
Cotton then enlisted the support of McConnell, who encouraged him to publish an op-ed in a local Arkansas paper detailing why Trump’s election-fraud claims were false, Drucker said.
However, the plan was derailed when Sen. Josh Hawley – who had also associated himself closely with Trump’s political agenda – announced in late December that he would support Trump and oppose Biden’s election certification, Drucker said.
Up to a dozen congressional Republicans including Sen. Ted Cruz also planned to oppose the Electoral College certification, reports at the time said, a situation which McConnell had publicly warned would see “democracy enter a death spiral.”
Drucker wrote that “Cotton’s strategy was derailed” by Hawley’s move and added: “After some discussion, McConnell urged Cotton to speed up his timeline for announcing his opposition.”
On January 3, Cotton released a statement saying he would not join efforts to oppose the certification of the Electoral College vote on January 6. The move was politically risky because Cotton, as a vocal Trump supporter, knew he would anger both his and the president’s base, the book said.
A pro-Trump mob broke into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 to disrupt the Electoral Vote Certification.
Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images
Ultimately, following the events of the Capitol riot on January 6, only seven GOP senators voted against Biden’s election win in Pennsylvania and six voted against his win in Arizona.
Following the outbreak of violence at the Capitol, some GOP lawmakers who planned to object to the certification changed their minds.
It is unclear whether Cotton’s public announcement played a significant role in stopping Trump from enlisting further Republican support.
McConnell’s team, at least, believe that it did. Two of McConnell’s aides told Drucker that Cotton played a “very important role” in preventing more Republicans from opposing the result.
Insider contacted Cotton and McConnell’s offices for comment, but is yet to receive a response from either.