Sen. John Thune: Efforts to overturn election would 'go down like a shot dog'

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, warned on Monday that efforts to challenge the Electoral College vote in Congress next month would fall short in the Senate.

The GOP senator — who has publicly and privately pushed back against the effort being led by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) — argued that it would be futile to force both chambers to vote on an objection to the Electoral College vote that is "not going anywhere."

“I mean in the Senate, it would … go down like a shot dog," Thune told reporters. "I just don't think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be."

His comments come after a group of House conservatives met with President Trump and Vice President Pence on Monday at the White House to strategize on the effort to challenge the Electoral College votes when Congress formally convenes to count and certify the vote next month.

"Big meeting today with @realDonaldTrump, @VP, the President's legal team, @freedomcaucus and other Members of Congress. I will lead an objection to Georgia's electors on Jan 6. The courts refuse to hear the President's legal case. We're going to make sure the People can!" Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) tweeted about the meeting.

Brooks has said he's spoken with Senate Republicans who are receptive to his plan, though none have said they plan to object. Incoming Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has said he's considering it, something that earned him public praise from Trump. A group of 2024 hopefuls are also being watched closely.

Thune said on Monday that he didn't know of a GOP senator, or incoming GOP senator, who had committed to challenging the election results on Jan. 6.

"I don't know where they're getting that. I've seen public statements from a couple of Republicans, incoming Republicans, but I don't know that anyone is committed to doing it," he said, when a reporter noted that House Republicans claim that a senator supports their effort.

The push by Brooks and others to use Congress' vote to prolong the election fight has put a spotlight on divisions between House and Senate Republicans, who have made it clear they are ready to move on.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Thune and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership and the Senate Rules Committee chairman, used a private caucus call last week to warn members of the caucus against challenging the results on Jan. 6. 

Though several House Republicans have said they are backing Brooks' effort, to successfully force a debate and vote on his objection he’ll need support from at least one GOP senator. That’s only happened twice since 1887, according to the Congressional Research Service.

If both a House member and senator object, the two chambers would have to meet separately, debate the issue and then have a majority in both chambers vote to uphold the objection to a state’s slate. A lawmaker has never been able to successfully throw out a state's results.