Bipartisan Backlash Confronts Trump’s Hedge on Committing to Peaceful Transfer of Power
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany sought Thursday to quell a bipartisan backlash after President Donald Trump hedged on committing to a peaceful transfer of power after the November 3 election. “The president will accept the results of a free and fair election,” she told reporters when asked about the president’s comment the previous evening in the same briefing room. “He will accept the will of the American people.” McEnany then stated that Democrats should be asked the same question and she reiterated Trump “wants to get rid of mass mail-out voting.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a news conference at the White House, Sept. 24, 2020.”We’re going to have to see what happens,” said the president in response to a reporter’s question during a White House news conference late Wednesday. ”I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.” Trump, without evidence, has repeatedly predicted massive fraud with tens of millions of mail-in ballots, which Democrats have encouraged amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We want to have — get rid of the ballots,” continued the president, explaining if that happens “there won’t be a transfer, frankly; there’ll be a continuation.” Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Sept. 24, 2020.Senator Bernie Sanders, in a speech, said Trump “is prepared to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power.” Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 and 2020, said, “the American people, no matter what their political persuasion, must make it clear that American democracy will not be destroyed.” Biden also responded to Trump’s remarks late Wednesday. “What country are we in? I’m being facetious,” said the former vice president. “I said what country are we in? Look, he says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say.” FILE – Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden departs after voting early in Delaware’s state primary election at the New Castle County Board of Elections office, in Wilmington, Delaware, Sept. 14, 2020.One of the country’s oldest constitutional rights groups also weighed in. “The peaceful transfer of power is essential to a functioning democracy. This statement from the president of the United States should trouble every American,” said David Cole, the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Supreme CourtEarlier Wednesday, Trump said he thinks the November election “will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.” The president plans to announce on Saturday his Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died this past Friday. If the Senate confirms the president’s nominee before the election, that would give the conservative wing a 6-3 majority on the court. “This scam that the Democrats are pulling, it’s a scam, the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court, and I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation,” Trump said. Mail-in ballotsThe president has repeatedly expressed concern about plans by a number of states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington, to automatically dispatch mail-in ballots to all state residents for the election. Benjamin Ginsberg, a top election lawyer who has represented four Republican presidential candidates, has been quoted this month saying Trump’s prediction of fraud with such ballots lacks evidence. “The president’s words make his and the Republican Party’s rhetoric look less like sincere concern — and more like transactional hypocrisy designed to provide an electoral advantage,” Ginsberg wrote in a Washington Post opinion article. “And they come as Republicans trying to make their cases in courts must deal with the basic truth that four decades of dedicated investigation have produced only isolated incidents of election fraud.” VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report from Wilmington, Delaware.