U.S. Sen. Steve Daines did an about face Wednesday night and recognized the presidential election outcome of all states, joining a majority of Senators in making Joe Biden’s 2020 election win official.
Daines’ change came after a day of riots and sedition by Trump supporters who, driven by a belief in false claims of voter fraud, assaulted the Capitol to prevent Joe Biden’s election win from being certified. Earlier in the day, the Montana Republican intended to reject the outcome of the vote in Arizona, a swing state Trump lost, and hold out for an audit of election results, despite fraud claims already being disproven.
Daines had said he still found some of the disproven fraud claims credible, but never identified a specific instance. For weeks after the election, he wouldn’t recognize that Biden won. President Donald Trump relied on the fraud claims heavily as he fought to undo his loss, fomenting Wednesday's fatal riot in the process.
After the Senate was cleared of rioters and brought back into session, Daines was on board to certify the election.
“We will not let today’s violence deter Congress from certifying the election. We must restore confidence in our electoral process,” Daines said in a press release. “We must, and we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power.”
Six senators continued to reject the Arizona vote. The Senate tally against the objection was 93-6.
Montana’s Senior Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, warned earlier in the day that the game Republicans were playing, crying voter fraud and refusing to recognize the vote in swing states Trump lost, was dangerous to American democracy.
In the House, Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale announced hours after the riot subsided that, as previously planned, he wouldn’t recognize the outcome of some states. Rosendale said Tuesday that the found allegations of voter fraud credible.
“I will oppose certification of electors from certain disputed states,” Rosendale said in a press release. “These votes were always about preserving and protecting the integrity of our election process, not any candidate.”
Rosendale never specified which states’ votes he would refuse to recognize. Arizona’s outcome was the only state rejected at press time. Proceedings were expected to continue after midnight.
There were 121 House Republicans who voted to reject Arizona's votes. There were 82 Republicans voting no. The Democratic majority voted against rejection as well. The final tally was 303-121 against rejecting the Biden victory in Arizona.