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Arizona At The Center Of Electoral College Challenges In Congress

MARK BRODIE: Later today, Vice President Mike Pence will preside over a joint session of Congress where they'll count the Electoral College votes that have already been certified in states across the country. It's typically a ceremonial process that's been hijacked this year, thanks to President Trump's refusal to concede his defeat at the hands of President-elect Joe Biden. Some Republican members of Congress plan to follow suit and object to the results certified by some states, but only states won by Biden. Here to explain what Arizona's Republicans have planned for today is KJZZ's Ben Giles. Hey, Ben.

BEN GILES: Good morning.

WATCH: U.S. Congress Tallies Electoral College Votes

BRODIE: So we know that some U.S. representatives and senators are planning to object to the certified presidential election results. Can you explain why and how that will affect the day?

GILES: Well, what we know so far is at least two of Arizona's four congressional Republicans are going to object to results. That's Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar. What's unclear is exactly which states — or, I should say — exactly how many states they're going to object to the results from. Biggs says that he'll object to results from his home state here in Arizona, perhaps others too. Texas. Sen. Ted Cruz will also reportedly object to Arizona's results. And that's key because Biggs can't do this alone. There must be an objection made in writing by at least one member of each chamber, and that's per state.

BRODIE: Now Ben, it's worth noting here that there's no real evidence of any irregularities or anything that would justify objecting here, right?

GILES: Right. There is no substance to these objections. The Republicans are doing this under the false premise that maybe the election was rigged or there were these horrible disparities in the results. And Congress has a duty to explore this, they say. And some like Biggs have couched this effort by saying, "Well, we're not actually trying to overturn the results or anything, like President Trump is pushing for." They just want to get to the bottom of these claims, they say. The problem with that is these alleged issues have been explored — in audits in multiple states, in court — and there's just no substance. We already know that. So with that in mind, this all just seems like a political maneuver, some kind of ploy to appeal to President Trump and his supporters.

BRODIE: All right. So Ben, what happens after these objections are formally made?

GILES: So procedurally, there's basically some time set aside to debate the objection. And that's going to mean floor speeches. And for those faithful Trump Republicans in Congress, that's a chance to cry foul on the president's behalf one more time. Then there's a vote. And if a majority of either chamber doesn't vote to uphold the objection, it's over, it's failed and the votes are then counted.

BRODIE: And that probably is what's going to happen, given what we know about GOP senators, the majority of them, and the makeup of the House.

GILES: Right. There is virtually no chance that the House would sustain these objections. And given the number of senators that we know are reportedly going to object, the Senate isn't going to sustain any objections either.

BRODIE: All right. So Ben, you mentioned a lot of these baseless claims of fraud have already been tested in court. Do we have any news on any last-minute efforts in the legal process today?

GILES: Right. So there was an effort by some Arizona Republicans, led by Kelli Ward, the state party chair, to basically change the rules for how the Electoral College votes are going to be counted by Congress today. Generally, the idea was to get a judge to order Mike Pence, who is overseeing the vote count, to do things that legally he's just not allowed to do in order to keep Trump in the White House. That lawsuit was shot down in federal court over the weekend. Interestingly, Kelli Ward claimed Monday morning and again Tuesday morning that they had reached out to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in hopes of getting some help to speed up a review and appeal maybe of that decision. But I spoke with the lead attorney in the case yesterday and Monday, and he never sent anything to Alito as Ward claimed. There's been no appeal, no request to the Supreme Court as Ward described. And even if there was, at this point it might be too late.

BRODIE: All right, so Ben, very quickly, before we let you go, anything planned locally or elsewhere as Congress takes its meeting today?

GILES: Well, we've seen a lot of reports of protests already in Washington, D.C. Paul Gosar, one of those who's kind of object to results today, was out in the streets of D.C. already yesterday protesting. And Kelli Ward says there's going to be some kind of protest/rally for Trump at the Capitol this morning. That might have started about 15 or 30 minutes ago. And again, it's worth noting, all of these protests, all of these claims, there's no substance to them. These objections to the election of Joe Biden, particularly in Arizona, there's no "there" there. And it's not going to change the outcome of what happens today. It might change how long it takes to count the votes, but it's not going to change the outcome.

BRODIE: All right. That is KJZZ's Ben Giles. Ben, thank you as always.

GILES: Thank you.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.