WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses drew swift blowback Thursday from both parties in Congress, and lawmakers turned to unprecedented steps to ensure he can't ignore the vote of the people. Amid the uproar, Trump said anew he's not sure the election will be “honest."
Congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, rejected Trump's assertion that he’ll “see what happens” before agreeing to any election outcome.
Many other lawmakers -- including from Trump’s own Republican Party -- vowed to make sure voters’ wishes are followed ahead of Inauguration Day in January. And some Democrats were taking action, including formally asking Trump's defense secretary, homeland security adviser and attorney general to declare they'll support the Nov. 3 results, whoever wins.
Asked as he departed the White House for a campaign rally if the election is only legitimate if he is the winner, Trump said, “We'll see.”
The president said he wants to “make sure the election is honest, and I’m not sure that it can be.”
Trump’s attacks on the upcoming vote -- almost without modern precedent in the U.S. -- are hitting amid the tumult of the campaign, as partisan tensions rage and more Americans than ever are planning to vote by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s not the first time he has sowed doubts about the voting process. But his increased questioning before any result is setting off alarms ahead of an Election Day like no other. Even without signs of illegality, results could be delayed because of the pandemic, leaving the nation exposed to groups or foreign countries seeking to provoke discord.
McConnell, the GOP Senate leader, said in a tweet, “The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th.” He said, “There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”