GOP senator says he's unconvinced by a Texas lawsuit - backed by Trump and 17 other states - that seeks to overturn the 2020 election

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Activists from 12 local organizations marched through Detroit on November 7 to call for the protection of the city's votes. Adam J. Dewey/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, told CNN he's not convinced by a Republican lawsuit meant to overturn the 2020 election.

  • "I read just the summary of it, and I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it," Cornyn said Wednesday.

  • The lawsuit in question was filed by Texas' attorney general, Ken Paxton, and seeks to invalidate votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia.

  • While highly unlikely to succeed, the lawsuit has been welcomed by outgoing President Donald Trump and allies including Cornyn's fellow Texas senator, Ted Cruz, who has agreed to argue the case should it be heard by the US Supreme Court.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas on Wednesday said a lawsuit from President Donald Trump and 18 Republican-led states seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election was based on dubious legal reasoning.

"I read just the summary of it, and I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it," Cornyn, a Republican, told CNN's Manu Raju.

"Number one, why would a state, even such a great state as Texas, have a say so on how other states administer their elections?" he continued. "It's an interesting theory, but I'm not convinced."

The lawsuit, filed this week by Texas' attorney general, Ken Paxton, seeks to disenfranchise voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, arguing their votes are "tainted."

The unprecedented legal push, in which Paxton has been joined by Trump's legal team and 17 other GOP state attorneys general, would deliver the presidency, if successful, to the certified loser of the election in each of the four states, where even Republican officials have rejected the president's claims of widespread fraud. It calls for Republican-led legislatures to override the public's vote and choose pro-Trump presidential electors instead.

Experts have said the push is likely to fail.

"The litigation is legally incoherent, factually untethered, and based on theories of remedy that fundamentally misunderstand the electoral process," Lisa Marshall Manheim, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Law, wrote in The Washington Post.

While tepid, the criticism from a sitting Republican US senator is nonetheless a major departure from the stance of many other party lawmakers including Sen. Ted Cruz, a fellow Texan. On Tuesday, Cruz, normally an advocate of state rights vis-à-vis the federal government, agreed to argue the case should it reach the US Supreme Court, The New York Times reported.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has also welcomed the litigation, saying it will provide "certainty and clarity about the entire election process," as the San Antonio Current noted.

In a court filing, a group of moderate Republicans, however, including former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, has urged the lawsuit to be thrown out, The Dallas Morning News reported, characterizing it as an "unprecedented argument that a presidential election dispute is a controversy between two or more states."

Read more: Meet Trump's new nemeses: The 15 prosecutors and investigators from New York who are primed to pepper the ex-president with history-making civil and criminal investigations

On Twitter, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, another Republican, welcomed Cornyn's remarks. "There is no legal theory," he wrote, "and the conservative majority Supreme Court will reject it out of hand."

Georgia's attorney general, Chris Carr, has also dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous, with a representative telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it is "constitutionally, legally, and factually wrong." That earned him a rebuke from the loser of the 2020 election, who in a 15-minute phone call on Wednesday night warned Carr not to rally other Republicans against the effort, the newspaper reported.

Pennsylvania's Democratic attorney general, Josh Shapiro, is also defiant. "Donald Trump will not get away with his attempts to subvert a free and fair election," Shapiro said Wednesday.

Odds are he's right: Out of 38 lawsuits filed by the president's legal team, zero have thus far resulted in a win.

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