The president’s allies and observers on Capitol Hill, aware of the requirement, had openly conjectured whether a Republican senator might join the crusade. When Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, a former football coach at Auburn University in Alabama, left the door open to lodging an objection in an interview with a local newspaper, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to lavish praise on him, calling him “a great champion and man of courage.”
“More Republican Senators should follow his lead,” Mr. Trump wrote.
But it was Mr. Hawley, not Mr. Tuberville, who ultimately first threw his hat into the ring, a distinction that Mr. Trump or his legions of supporters are likely to notice.
Mr. Hawley, who swept into Washington in 2019 after defeating the incumbent Democrat, Claire McCaskill, has embraced Mr. Trump’s brand of populism in his short time in the Senate, pushing for $2,000 pandemic relief checks and railing against social media companies. He is widely considered a potential contender for the 2024 presidential election.
“This is how you run for president on the Republican side in 2024,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the committee that oversees the certification process. “You join a coup attempt. Democracy will prevail.”
At a news briefing on Wednesday, the incoming White House press secretary, Jennifer Psaki, said that “the American people spoke resoundingly in this election,” and she described Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results as “merely a formality.”
“Regardless of whatever antics anyone is up to on Jan. 6, President-elect Biden will be sworn in on the 20th,” Ms. Psaki said.
Mr. Hawley’s challenge is not unprecedented, even in the modern era. Democrats in both the House and Senate challenged certification of the 2004 election results and House Democrats tried on their own to challenge the 2016 and 2000 outcomes, though without Senate support.