A senior Republican Senator has backed calls for crucial battleground states to "invalidate" allegedly fraudulent election results in a last-ditch attempt to scuttle Joe Biden's election.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night that "everything should be on the table" when asked about the controversial proposal, which has been floated by former White House officials in recent days.
Under the United States Constitution, state legislators have the power to appoint electors to the electoral college, who then elect the president.
The Fox News host asked the senator: "We also know that the Constitution allows state legislators, they're the ones that would make decisions. Should these Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, if there's corruption and they don't abide by the law - they don't allow observers in, as the law calls for - should they then invalidate this?"
"I think everything should be on the table," Graham replied.
Darren Beattie, a former Duke University professor and White House official, appears to have been among the first to make the suggestion in an article for Revolver earlier this week headlined "The Steal Is On. What Republicans Must Do Next To Guarantee Victory".
Beattie pointed to Supreme Court precedent in the 2000 Bush v Gore ruling, which held that the state legislature's "power to select the manner for appointing electors is plenary – it may, if it so chooses, select the electors itself, which indeed was the manner used by state legislatures in several states for many years after the framing of our Constitution".
That ruling came in the context of the Florida recount drama, when state Republicans were on the verge of doing just that.
"Legislatures retain this right precisely due to crises like this one," Beattie wrote.
"Republican lawmakers should feel no hesitation about defending the true majorities in their states from a thuggish effort to change the results."
Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman reiterated on Thursday that the Republican-controlled legislature would not move to appoint electors to override the popular vote.
Corman had already knocked back the idea in October, writing in an opinion piece for the Centre Daily Times, co-authored with Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, that the state's lawmakers "have no role to play in deciding the presidential election".
"To insinuate otherwise is to inappropriately set fear into the Pennsylvania electorate with an imaginary scenario not provided for anywhere in law — or in fact," they wrote.
"Pennsylvania law plainly says that the state's electors are chosen only by the popular vote of the commonwealth's voters."
The pair noted that the election was "the most politically charged in our lifetime, so we understand that misrepresentations and attention-grabbing social media posts will be part of the rhetoric", but said "we need to rise above that and not fall victim to outside influences that are trying to stir emotion".
Corman has also dismissed Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud.
Vote counting continues in key battleground states including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, but Trump's hopes of re-election are fading as former Vice President Biden continues to gain ground in urban Democrat strongholds.
Trump has claimed Democrats "could never win the election and that is why they did the mail-in ballots where there is tremendous corruption and fraud going on," vowing to challenge the results all the way up to the Supreme Court.