GOP senators congratulated Kamala Harris on becoming vice president-elect on the Senate floor while continuing to deny Biden’s win in public

Graham/Harris fist bump
Sen. Lindsey Graham fist bumping Sen. Kamala Harris on November 17, 2020.
  • Several Republican senators congratulated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on her victory as President-electJoe Biden's running mate in private remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
  • CNN's Manu Raju reported that Sens. Tim Scott, James Lankford, Mike Rounds, and Ben Sasse all approached Harris to congratulate her. Only Sasse has publicly acknowledged Biden and Harris' electoral win.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the most prominent defenders of President Donald Trump's bogus voter-fraud claims, was also filmed giving Harris a fist bump. 
  • While most GOP lawmakers have publicly refused to acknowledge Biden's victory, many have privately accepted Biden to be the 46th president of the United States. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Several Republican senators congratulated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on her victory as Joe Biden's running mate, while publicly echoing President Donald Trump's refusal to acknowledge the Democrats' presidential victory. 

According to CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju, Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska all approached Harris to congratulate her on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

Out of those four senators, only Sasse has publicly acknowledged Biden's election win. Raju later told CNN's Anderson Cooper that when he asked Lankford about his remarks to Harris, the senator said he was simply being polite and the gesture didn't mean he was conceding Biden's victory. 

Footage also showed Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina approaching Harris to give her a fist bump.

Graham has been one of the most vocal defenders of Trump's baseless claim that the election was stolen from him because of widespread electoral fraud — an allegation for which neither the president nor his legal team have offered convincing evidence.

Earlier this week Georgia's top election official said that Graham had pressured him to throw out thousands of ballots in several counties, even as Biden was projected to win the state.

Raju told CNN's Anderson Cooper later on Tuesday that when he asked Graham about the fist bump, the senator said he would be willing to work with Harris if the election results are ratified by the Electoral College later this month and Biden is found to have won.

Tuesday was Harris' first return to the Senate since her and Biden's presidential victory. She had attended to vote no to Trump's pick, Judy Shelton, to join the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

There have been signs in recent days that the wall of Republican senators who have stood by Trump's refusal to acknowledge Biden's victory is beginning to crack. 

On Monday Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida referred to Biden as the president-elect, more than a week after Insider and most other news organizations projected Biden as the winner of the election. 

Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine have also acknowledged Biden's win. 

In private, many Trump allies have conceded that the president's prospects of victory in the slew of lawsuits he has launched to challenge vote counts in swing states are remote, and that Biden will take office in January.

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