Mr. Trump has continued to falsely claim that Mr. Biden unfairly won the election because of widespread voter fraud and has demanded that congressional Republicans work to overturn the results. Attorney General William P. Barr has acknowledged that the Justice Department had uncovered no such fraud that would have changed the outcome and the Supreme Court, as well as courts in at least eight key states across the country, has refused or rejected challenges waged by the Trump campaign in an attempt to throw out the results of the election. Those challenges have not come close to overturning the results in a single state.
Still there is a substantial rift in the party. While a steady stream of House Republicans have announced their willingness to object to the electoral votes of critical states, Mr. Hawley is the first senator to do so. He hinted on Wednesday that other senators could soon join his effort, telling reporters “a number of offices have reached out via staff to ours and said, ‘We’re interested.’”
On Thursday, he blasted out a fund-raising pitch highlighting his plan. “We must ensure that one vote means one vote in America,” read the message, which was positioned alongside a photo of Mr. Hawley and Mr. Trump. “I plan to object to the results of the Electoral College on Jan. 6, but I need your help.”
It is unclear how many — if any — of his Senate colleagues will rally to his side.
But it is already creating something of a test for Republicans and their allies, who are being forced to take sides and either back Mr. Trump or reject his efforts to overturn the election.
His announcement on Wednesday was met with a distinct lack of enthusiasm in many conservative circles. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, had discouraged lawmakers from objecting to the results, arguing that a challenge would force senators to go on the record either defying Mr. Trump or rejecting the will of the voters.
And on a private conference call on Thursday with Senate Republicans, Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is retiring in 2022, spoke up to make clear his “strong” disagreement with Mr. Hawley’s plan, a spokesman for Mr. Toomey confirmed.
Mr. Hawley’s objection will force the Senate to debate his claim for up to two hours, followed by a vote on Mr. Biden’s victory. With every Senate Democrat expected to certify the election, along with at least several Republicans, the Senate is likely to affirm Mr. Biden’s victory. The House, which must also conduct the same vote, is controlled by Democrats, making certification a certainty.