While Republican members of Congress began the day divided on whether they’d support the outcome of the presidential election, several members of a small GOP faction that intended to oppose the results changed course by day’s end, including Sen. Steve Daines.
Hours after an insurrection mustered by Trump supporters led to the lockdown and desecration of the U.S. Capitol, at least one death and the wounding of several police officers, Daines issued a statement saying he would no longer oppose the electoral results.
“In light of the deplorable violence, and the assault on our Constitution and law enforcement, the senator believed it was best for our nation to move forward with as much unity as possible, and affirm the results,” Daines’ spokesperson Katie Schoettler said Wednesday night.
Daines over the weekend joined 10 other GOP senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, in demanding that an election commission form to review the results of the presidential race.
Daines suggested that voting irregularities included signature verification, delayed ballots and lack of access to the polls, placing into question the outcome in several states. No evidence of such claims have been found, other GOP leaders have said.
But Daines joined a faction of GOP senators in disputing the electoral results in some states on Wednesday morning. It began with Arizona before chaos ensued, Congress was interrupted and domestic terrorists moved in.
“As stated from the beginning, the senator’s goal was to raise concerns for Americans who lack confidence in our elections, and to drive reforms to restore integrity, confidence and trust in our electoral process,” his office stated. “It was never an attempt to overturn the election.”
Opponents of the faction’s move to dispute the election outcome in some states have suggested the group played a small role in Wednesday’s insurrection by fueling Trump’s misleading statements. Critics include Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans.
Trump led a rally earlier in the day before Congress convened to count the electoral votes. Shortly after, his supporters stormed the capital. It marked the first time insurrectionists have occupied the people’s house in more than 200 years, some historians have said.
Daines condemned the violence in a midday Tweet. He later issued Wednesday night’s statement, calling the violence unacceptable.
“Congress’ role to count the electoral vote was a platform to raise these priorities – that’s why he objected to Arizona,” Schoettler said. “The senator will continue fighting for election reform through all legal and peaceful means.”
Daines didn’t dispute Trump’s victory four years ago, in which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by the same electoral margin that he lost to Biden by in 2020. Daines easily won his own reelection, defeating former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.