March 9, 2021

Is Joe Biden the president-elect? Yes, no, or this 138-word non-answer

After the Electoral College confirmed Monday that Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States, a reporter asked Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, whether he thought Biden was now officially the “president-elect.”

To the yes-or-no question, he responded:

“Well, it seems to me that being elected by the Electoral College is a threshold where a title like that is probably most appropriate and it’s, I suppose you can say official, if there is such a thing as official president-elect, or anything else-elect. And there’s an inauguration that will swear somebody in and that person will be the president of the United States, but whether you call it that or not, you know, there are legal challenges that are ongoing – not very many – probably not a remedy that would change the outcome but, so, I don’t – again I don’t know how politician refers to another politician but it does look to me like the big race is really between the inaugural committee and the Justice Department at this point so we ‘ll see how the emails turn out. ”

His colleague John Barrasso of Wyoming – the Senate’s third-ranking Republican – was only slightly less wordy and equivocal:

“I know what the Constitution says, Article 2, Section 1. And I know that the Electoral College has voted today, so, to me, that tells us a lot… I follow the Constitution.”

Barrasso also called it a “gotcha” question, which is generally defined as a question used to embarrass the person being asked or to expose them in some unfair way.

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