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Republican US Senate leader congratulates Joe Biden on election victory
15 December 2020, 17:36
US Senate leader Mitch McConnell has congratulated president-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying "the Electoral College has spoken".
It comes after the Democrat cleared the 270-vote threshold in the count late on Monday, with California electors affirming his five-million-margin win in last month's national ballot.
Mr Biden's victory has been overshadowed by dozens of legal challenges from President Donald Trump and his lawyers, virtually all of which have failed.
However, the Republican leader of the upper chamber delivered a statement on the Senate floor on Tuesday following weeks of silence regarding Mr Trump's defeat.
"I want to congratulate president-elect Joe Biden," Mr McConnell said.
"Many of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result.
"But our system of government has the processes to determine who will be sworn in on 20 January. The Electoral College has spoken."
The Senate Majority Leader described the president-elect as someone "who has devoted himself to public service for many years".
He also congratulated vice president-elect Kamala Harris, saying "all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time".
Before offering his congratulations to the two Democrats, Mr McConnell gave Mr Trump praise for his "endless" accomplishments during his presidency, saying the US leader and vice-president Mike Pence "deserve our thanks".
The Senate leader referenced the president's nomination and upcoming Senate confirmation of three Supreme Court justices, among other achievements.
Mr McConnell's statement comes after several leading Republicans conceded for the first time to Mr Biden, essentially abandoning their leader's repeated claims that the outcome of the election was fraudulent.
Tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud. There has never been anything like this in our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2020
Despite the Electoral College confirmation, President Trump tweeted this on Tuesday: "Tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud. There has never been anything like this in our Country!"
Some Republicans have vowed to continue standing by the president until 6 January when Congress votes to accept or reject the Electoral College results.
Others have said Mr Trump's legal battles should continue towards resolution by inauguration day on 20 January.
"It's a very, very narrow path for the president," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.
"But having said that, I think we'll let those legal challenges play out."
Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated Mr Biden after weeks of delaying.
The Kremlin had previously said Mr Putin would hold off on congratulating the president-elect until the winner was officially confirmed.
In his message, the Russian leader wished the Democrat "every success", according to a Kremlin statement.
He expressed confidence in "Russia and the US, which bear special responsibility for global security and stability can, despite the differences, really contribute to solving many problems and challenges that the world is currently facing".
The Russian president added: "The Russian-American co-operation based on the principles of equality and mutual respect would meet the interests of the people in both countries and the entire international community."
He continued: "For my part, I am ready for interaction and contact with you."