Both Parties Vow Orderly Election 09/25 06:14
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
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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
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
Said Pelosi, "Calm down, Mr. President."
"You are in the United States of America. It is a democracy," she said,
reminding Trump this is not North Korea, Russia or other countries with
strongman leaders he admires. "So why don't you just try for a moment to honor
our oath of office to the Constitution of the United States."
Trump is fanning the uncertainty as he floats theories the election may be
"rigged" if he loses, echoing warnings he made ahead of the 2016 voting ---
even though past elections have not shown substantial evidence of fraud from
During a Wednesday news conference, Trump said, "We're going to have to see
what happens," responding to a question about committing to the results. "You
know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the
ballots are a disaster."
Reaction to his comment was strong from Capitol Hill --- from both parties.
Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and the GOP chair of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, told "Fox & Friends" on Thursday: "If Republicans lose we will
accept the result. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Joe Biden, I will
accept that result.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a member of the House GOP leadership, tweeted:
"The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and
fundamental to the survival of our Republic. America's leaders swear an oath to
the Constitution. We will uphold that oath."
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, was incredulous, "What
country are we in?" he said late Wednesday of Trump's comment. "Look, he says
the most irrational things. I don't know what to say about it. But it doesn't
On Capitol Hill, Trump's possible refusal to accept the election results has
been discussed privately for weeks as lawmakers consider options. One senator
said recently it was the biggest topic of private discussions.
Two House Democrats, Reps. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Elissa Slotkin
of Michigan --- both members of the Armed Services Committee --- are formally
asking members of Trump's Cabinet to go on record and commit to upholding the
Constitution and peaceful transition.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded in a
letter to the lawmakers last month that he sees "no role" for the military to
intervene in a disputed election.
But Defense Secretary Mark Esper declined to respond to the lawmakers'
questions. Similar queries have been sent to Attorney General William Barr and
acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. They have yet to respond.
"The president can't successfully refuse to accept the results of the
election without a number of very senior officials aiding him," said Slotkin, a
former CIA analyst.
Sherill, a former Navy pilot, said peaceful transition "really relies a lot
on the Cabinet officers turning over their departments to the next
administration." She told The Associated Press recently she wants to hear from
"all of them."
Meanwhile, Republicans are rushing to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court
created by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, partly to ensure a Trump-friendly court
majority to resolve any post-election lawsuits by their party or Trump himself.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is among leading Republicans pushing the importance of
the court's role. And Graham suggested on Fox that the Supreme Court could end
up all but declaring the winner.
Democrats object strongly.
"He wants to be named president for life?" Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,
exclaimed at the Capitol. That's how a "dictator" operates, she said. "That's
not how a democracy works."
Earlier Thursday, the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany sought to
clarify Trump's words, saying he "will accept the results of a free and fair
But the press secretary added that Trump wants to "get rid of mass, mail-out
The president, who uses mail-in voting himself, has tried to distinguish
between states that automatically send ballots to all registered voters and
those, like Florida, that send only to voters who request them. Five states
that routinely send mail ballots to all voters have seen no significant fraud.
Of the nine states with universal ballots this year, only Nevada is a
battleground, and likely pivotal only in a total national presidential deadlock.
Before the 2016 election, much as now, Trump refused to commit to accepting
the results during the summer.
"I have to see," Trump said two months ago on "Fox News Sunday." "No, I'm
not going to just say yes. I'm not going to say no, and I didn't last time