NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Weeks Of Demurring, Cornyn Calls Biden 'President-Elect'

Sen. Cornyn criticizes Joe Biden's reported cabinet picks in Senate Chamber on Nov. 30, while declining to call him President-Elect.
Sen. Cornyn criticizes Joe Biden's reported cabinet picks in Senate Chamber on Nov. 30, while declining to call him President-Elect.

After weeks of demurring or declining to say that President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential contest, Texas’ senior senator, John Cornyn, has acknowledged the victory.

In an early morning tweet Wednesday, Cornyn said: “President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to put Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) in the Cabinet as HUD secretary gives speaker Nancy Pelosi a 220 Seat Majority — Just a five-seat edge over House Republicans. …”

It is the first time the senator used the title of the President-elect. The backhanded acknowledgement comes five days ahead of the electoral college vote and puts the Texas leader at odds with the rest of the top statewide officeholders.

Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, with the blessing of Gov. Gregg Abbott, challenged the election results and sued to have them reversed in four battleground states. Cornyn’s Senate colleague Ted Cruz has reportedly offered to argue the case.

For weeks Cornyn has navigated a path that allows for the president’s unfounded claims and efforts to subvert the democratic process, while also allowing for the cold light of reason to slowly shine in. In mid-November he told news outlets that it looked unlikely that President Trump would succeed but insisted Biden was not the president-elect until the votes were certified.

“It looks to me like a pathway for the president has narrowed if not closed,” Cornyn said in the pages of theDallas Morning Newssix days ago. Even after vote tallies in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Nevada were certified, the senator still didn’t use the moniker for the man who won the election by millions of votes, instead calling him "Former Vice President."

This weekend the Washington Post found that 220 Republican members of Congress declined to say whether or not Biden won. Only 20% of Republicans in a recent YouGov poll believed Biden won and nearly half thought Trump would be reelected Jan. 20.

The silence of Republican leaders in the face of overwhelming evidence that Biden is the president-elect, that somehow fraud or malfeasance has led to the result, is undoubtedly fueling an angry electorate.

The president’s poor performance in state and federal courts hasn’t assuaged anger or reinforced election results for many across the country. The president has lost more than 50 election related suits and succeeded in only one. Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out his suit to overturn Pennsylvania's electoral outcome with a single sentence and no dissents.

If votes, media reports, state certifications, and judicial briefs don’t settle the issue of who won the 2020 presidential election for fully a quarter of the voting public, will a tweet from Texas’ senior senator? Probably not.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

Copyright 2020 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Paul Flahive is the accountability reporter for Texas Public Radio. He has worked in public media across the country, from Iowa City and Chicago to Anchorage and San Antonio.