Sen. Mike Lee acknowledges Joe Biden is president-elect

Utah’s Mitt Romney says Donald Trump has put Biden in an unfortunate spot by attacking the election results.

(Ross D. Franklin | AP file photo) Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Phoenix on Oct. 28, 2020. Lee finally is acknowledging Joe Biden as president-elect.

Conservative Utah Sen. Mike Lee — who like President Donald Trump had not recognized Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election — relented, sort of, after the Electoral College formally voted Monday.

“Absent new information that could give rise to a judicial or legislative determination altering the impact of today’s Electoral College votes, Joe Biden will become president of the United States on Jan. 20,” Lee acknowledged in a written statement.

Still, Lee added, “Concerns regarding fraud and irregularities in this election remain active in multiple states, and those concerns need to be addressed by Congress and state and local officials throughout the country.”

Lee, for weeks, had defended Trump’s ongoing challenges to the election, which have been rejected by the courts.

In contrast, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Gov.-elect Spencer Cox were among the earliest Republicans to recognize Biden as the winner once major news organizations called the race. Also, Republican Rep. John Curtis and Rep.-elect Blake Moore recognized Biden early as the winner.

Rep. Chris Stewart also acknowledged Biden as the winner Tuesday in a tweet, saying, “I look forward to working with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for the common good of the American people.”

Just before that, Stewart tweeted praised for Trump and what he said are his historic accomplishments.

Republican Utah Rep. Rob Bishop and Rep.-elect Burgess Owens have yet to make clear statements recognizing or congratulating Biden as president-elect. They did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment Tuesday.

During a Tuesday evening appearance on Fox Business Channel’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Owens voiced support for Trump’s continuing claims that the election was fraudulent.

“We want to make sure this is not stolen from us,” Owens said. “Too many millions of Americans believe it is at this point. I’m proud of the president who fights to the very, very end.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Biden on Tuesday. “The Electoral College has spoken,” he said in a Senate speech, “so today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.”

Romney said on national television Tuesday that Biden may have a difficult time convincing many Republicans that he actually won because of continuing falsehoods Trump is spreading. A new CBS poll shows that 82% of Republicans nationally do not believe Biden is the legitimate winner.

“I think it’s a very difficult position that President-elect Biden is going to be in as a result of President Trump’s efforts to try to overturn the will of the people,” Romney said on CBS This Morning.

“But now you’ve had every court say that President Trump does not have a case. You have the Electoral College that has voted and it is very clear that President-elect Biden will become our next president,” he said. “It’s time to move on.”

Romney added that he believes Biden will find a way to unify the nation.

“Hopefully he’ll choose an agenda which will bring the American people together, not just rhetoric, but an agenda which is not divisive,” he said.

Romney said he is willing and excited to work with Biden.

“I’m looking forward to working with him,” Romney said. “I’m on the opposite side of the aisle. We’re not going to agree on every policy proposal he’ll make, but I’m certainly going to treat him and his administration with respect.”

Lee also offered some advice for Biden on how to work with Republicans during an interview with Yahoo Finance.

“There are lots of things we could do. There are plenty of areas where the parties are at odds with each other, and plenty of areas where they are not,” Lee said.

For example, he said he believes bipartisan support exists to increase the child tax credit and “thereby decrease what I call the parent tax penalty,” Lee said. Passing such things could help the middle class and help build confidence on both sides.

Lee also said, “We would do a lot better and we’d have a lot more bipartisanship” if Congress addressed more single, narrowly focused issues separately instead of lumping them together in huge omnibus bills.

“That would allow us to realize there is a lot that can be done if we don’t tie everything to everything else,” he said.

Rep.-elect Moore, who is replacing Bishop, also issued a statement on Tuesday pledging to work with Biden.

“I will continue to create productive relationships with congressional members and a new administration to fight for the needs of Utah,” he said.

Reporter Bryan Schott contributed to this article.