- President Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power once again this week when asked what he would do if he were to lose the 2020 election.
- Trump said “get rid of the ballots […] there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there will be a continuation.”
- Several Republican senators responded to Trump’s comments with statements of their own, including Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, and Mitt Romney.
Throughout his tenure as President of the United States, Donald Trump has repeatedly refrained from offering a clear and concise answer when asked about what he would do if he were to lose his reelection bid. The trend continued on Wednesday when a reporter asked the president during a press briefing if he would commit to “a peaceful transferral of power after the election,” to which he responded: “Well, we’re gonna have to see what happens.”
Trump then added that “the ballots are a disaster” and explained that if we “get rid of the ballots […] there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there will be a continuation.” This is quite possibly as direct as the president has ever been about his feelings on the democratic process, and it led to a firestorm from those who saw it as an attempt to delegitimize the election. The reaction was loud enough that even top Republicans felt the need to respond.
“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th,” wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”
Other senators joined McConnell in attempting to ensure Americans that they will be able to trust the results of their election and the transition from one president to the next, should Joe Biden top Donald Trump. In a tweet of his own, Sen. Marco Rubio noted that “it may take longer than usual to know the outcome, but it will be a valid one.” With mail-in voting expected in record numbers this November due to the pandemic, it’s entirely possible that the election won’t be decided on November 3rd as all of the ballots are counted across the country.
“Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” said Mitt Romney, one of few Republican senators to ever clash with Trump, in his tweet. “Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”
The rest of the Senate joined together on Thursday to pass a resolution in response to Trump’s comments:
By unanimous consent, the Senate passed S. Res. 718 (Reaffirming the Senate’s commitment to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes).
— Senate Periodicals (@SenatePPG) September 24, 2020
Trump has been complaining about voter fraud since the 2016 election and continues to talk about it as a significant threat to the United States today. He claimed that he lost the popular vote in 2016 because “millions of people voted illegally,” though there is no evidence of rampant voter fraud anywhere in the country.