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Via CNN

Here's the thinking of Republicans who plan to object Wednesday to certifying the Electoral College victory of President-elect Biden — a band that's up to a dozen senators and at least 140 House members, backed by Vice President Pence.

The big picture: They know there's no state where the results are in any kind of doubt, and they know their protests won't change the outcome.

  • The rebels are letting other Republicans (including Senate Majority Leader McConnell) take the heat, while they stoke the base. The objections let them court Trump as part of an effort to fend off primary challenges. 

Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, said in a statement that Pence "shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities."

  • The statement notably doesn't say that Pence, who'll be presiding, will object. Instead, it says he "welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections."
Sen. Ted Cruz greets a crowd yesterday before speaking at a rally for Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Cumming, Ga. Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP

After Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) went first, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is leading a group of 11 more senators as elector objectors.

  • The Cruz crew is calling for "an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states."

How it works: If both a representative and a senator object to an individual state's result, members of the House and Senate head to their separate chambers — for up to two hours — to debate and vote on whether to uphold the challenge.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called the protests "egregious": "The congressional power to reject electors is reserved for the most extreme and unusual circumstances. These are far from it."

Go deeper

Scoop: Conservative group puts $700k behind Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley explains his objection to certifying the 2020 election results hours after the U.S. Capitol siege. Photo: Congress.gov via Getty Images

A Republican group is raising and spending huge amounts of money defending Sen. Josh Hawley after he was ostracized for early January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: The Senate Conservatives Fund is plugging Hawley's ideological bona fides and backfilling lost corporate cash with needed political and financial support, helping inoculate him as he weighs reelection or a possible presidential campaign in 2024.

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

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Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Senate Democrats demand answers on FBI's Kavanaugh probe

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Democrats are demanding that the FBI hand over "all records and communications" related to the FBI tip line set up to investigate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was a nominee in 2018.

Why it matters: The ask comes after the FBI revealed it received more than 4,500 tips about Kavanaugh when he was awaiting Senate confirmation amid sexual assault allegations. Only the most "relevant" of these tips were forwarded to the Trump White House.

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