As President Trump refused to concede defeat on Saturday, top Republican congressional leaders followed suit, refraining from releasing the customary statements congratulating the victor that have been standard among senior lawmakers in both parties when a presidential election has been declared.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader and Republican of Kentucky, declined on Saturday to acknowledge Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, with an aide instead pointing reporters to a generic “count all the votes” statement that Mr. McConnell released on Friday before the results were known.
In that statement, released on Twitter as Mr. Trump preemptively contested the outcome of the election, Mr. McConnell had outlined “how this must work in our great country.” “Every legal vote should be counted,” he said. “Any illegally-submitted ballots must not. All sides must get to observe the process. And the courts are here to apply the laws & resolve disputes.”
“That’s how Americans’ votes decide the result,” he said.
“The election isn’t over until all legal votes are counted and certified,” Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking Republican, said on Twitter. “There are still serious legal challenges that have been made, and until that process is resolved, the election is not final. The American people deserve a fair and transparent process.”
The reactions suggested that Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have spent four years clinging tightly to Mr. Trump or at least have avoided publicly countering him for fear of provoking an angry tweet, were sticking to those approaches even after his loss.
In the weeks leading up to the election, as Mr. Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, some Republicans including Mr. McConnell gently pushed back without directly rebuking the president, making it clear that if he were to lose, they expected him to abide by the results. “The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th,” Mr. McConnell said then. “There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”
But Mr. Trump’s reluctance to accept his defeat, and his angry, and false, insistence on Saturday that he had in fact won raised questions about whether any senior Republican would be willing to contradict him.
Only a handful of rank-and-file Republicans, including some who are not likely to face voters again, offered their good wishes for Mr. Biden.