Chuck Grassley won’t acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect until recounts and legal challenges are settled

The Republican senator compared the 2020 election to the 2000 presidential election, saying he would wait for recounts and legal challenges to be settled before acknowledging Joe Biden as president-elect.


Katina Zentz

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., has a conversation at the Iowa State Capitol on Monday, January 13, 2020.

Caleb McCullough, Politics Editor

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the presidential election, which has been called by the Associated Press and other major news outlets, is still too close to call in a conference call with reporters Thursday. 

Grassley and other Republican leaders, in Iowa and nationally, have not congratulated president-elect Joe Biden on his projected victory, where he leads by tens of thousands of votes in multiple swing states. 

“President Trump is well within his rights to ask the courts to review any election dispute,” Grassley said.

Despite the race being called by major media outlets, President Trump has broken with tradition by not conceding the election and has claimed, without evidence, that widespread electoral fraud led to Biden’s victory. 

Grassley compared the 2020 election to the 2000 election, where George W. Bush and Al Gore were separated by only 537 votes in Florida, which was the deciding state in that election. 

The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, and Arizona — all states where Biden leads by a healthy margin — and at least three of those states would need to be flipped by recounts or legal challenges to overturn Biden’s electoral college lead. Several of Trump’s legal challenges have been dismissed by judges for lack of evidence. 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, announced a hand recount of Georgia’s election results on Wednesday. Biden leads by more than 14,000 votes in the state, according to The New York Times.

“[Biden] is ahead right now, so that’s all I can say, but when you’re going through a recount of 5 million votes in Georgia…I think it would be foolish for me to say he’s got it sewed up,” Grassley said Thursday.

Grassley also compared the race to Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District race, where Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks leads Democrat Rita Hart by 47 votes. Despite Miller-Meeks claiming victory, Grassley said he hasn’t congratulated her yet because recounts are pending. Hart requested a recount of the entire district on Thursday.

Grassley said the winner of the presidential race would be decided on Dec. 14, when state electors meet to cast their votes for president. 

Despite not acknowledging Biden as president-elect, Grassley said he would hope for a good working relationship with a Biden administration to achieve common goals. Biden and Grassley served together in the U.S. Senate for nearly 30 years, and both served together on the Judiciary Committee.

“While he was in the Senate, I had a good working relationship with him,” Grassley said. “And if he wants to continue that, I’m obviously going to work with him, because I try to work with any president to help Iowans.”