Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer refused again Thursday to refer to Joe Biden as president-elect, days after the Electoral College certified Biden's victory and a week after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a GOP bid backed by Emmer to overturn it.
Making his first public comments since both developments, Emmer acknowledged the Electoral College's recognition of Biden as the winner and said President Donald Trump's options for challenging that outcome were "diminishing."
But in a panel discussion with Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Emmer rebuffed attempts by moderator and CBS correspondent Major Garrett to refer to Biden as president-elect. Emmer instead said that Jan. 6, the date Congress will officially count the Electoral College's votes, marks the end of the line.
"There is a process in place," Emmer said. "For me, you've got to allow the process to go through."
Emmer's stance is a dramatic change from how he responded to Trump's 2016 victory, when he publicly congratulated and referred to Trump as president-elect the day after the election.
Klobuchar pointed out that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has since acknowledged Biden as president-elect and has discouraged other Senate Republicans from challenging the Electoral College.
Biden defeated Trump by 306 to 232 electoral votes, the same margin by which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 and which the president called a landslide.
"We know [Biden] won this election," said Klobuchar, who ran this year for the Democratic nomination herself.
Emmer said he would attend Biden's inauguration, adding, "We respect the office, and this is what this country is built on."
The hourlong postelection discussion, led by the Economic Club of Minnesota and recorded as part of Garrett's podcast, was largely devoid of fireworks between opposing members of the state's congressional delegation who call each other friends. They appeared remotely, via Zoom, for the event.
Last week, Emmer and fellow Republican congressmen Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn publicly backed a GOP bid to overturn the presidential election that the Supreme Court swiftly dismissed.
Emmer's remarks on Thursday were his first on the matter. Stauber, Hagedorn and Michelle Fischbach, who is soon to join the delegation after defeating longtime Democratic congressman Collin Peterson last month, also have yet to call Biden the president-elect.
The failed court challenge alleged that changes made to election laws in several states — chiefly four swing states won by Biden — in the months leading up to the election were unconstitutional. As in Minnesota, some states amended rules to accommodate concerns over voting amid the pandemic.
More than a dozen GOP state lawmakers asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to add Minnesota to his lawsuit on the eve of the Supreme Court's eventual decision to throw it out.
State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, a Big Lake Republican who chairs the Senate's elections committee, has publicly acknowledged that claims of widespread fraud "have not held up under scrutiny or in the courts."
Kiffmeyer, a former secretary of state, has led critiques of Secretary of State Steve Simon's agreement to waive witness requirements and extend the deadline by which mail ballots could be counted in response to state court lawsuits earlier this year.
Kiffmeyer led a hearing last week on the election results and signaled that another could come before the holidays. Her committee had scheduled another hearing for Friday, but it was canceled as of Thursday.