Donald Trump was sharply rebuked by Republicans after refusing to engage in a peaceful transfer of power if he lost to Joe Biden in the November US election.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate who rarely censors Mr. Trump, wrote on Twitter that there would be an “orderly transition like there has been every four years since 1792” – a reference to the re-election of George Washington.
His comment came amid a storm of anger over Mr Trump’s response to a question on Wednesday, when asked if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power if the ballot is lost November. Mr. Trump replied, “We’re going to have to see what happens.”
Mitt Romney, the Utah senator and former Republican presidential candidate, attacked Mr. Trump, saying the peaceful transition of power was what separated the United States from authoritarian regimes.
“The peaceful transition of power is fundamental for democracy. Without that, there is Belarus, ”he tweeted. “Any suggestion that a president might violate this constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”
Some of Mr Trump’s closest allies, including Lindsey Graham, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also rebuffed his comments, saying Republicans would accept losing the White House and accept any Supreme Court ruling in favor of Mr. Biden.
Liz Cheney, Republican number three in the House of Representatives, also berated Mr. Trump. “The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our constitution and fundamental to the survival of our republic,” said Cheney, who is considered a possible future presidential candidate.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, rebuked Mr. Trump, saying he was “very sad” that he was undermining American democracy, adding that the country was neither North Korea nor Russia .
“You are in the United States. . . it is a democracy, ”she said. “So why don’t you just try for a moment to honor our oath of office to the constitution.”
Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, asked, “What country are we in?” asked about the controversy. “He says the most irrational things,” he said of the president.
Mr. Trump has long refused to say he would accept the election result. He claimed that the expected increase in postal votes due to the pandemic was an “out of control” disaster that would help Mr Biden. But he went further on Wednesday by not committing to a peaceful transfer.
Many more Americans are expected to vote by mail this year due to the pandemic. But Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI who was appointed by Mr Trump, recently told Congress that there was no evidence that the US electoral process had ever been tarnished by the type of large-scale fraud Mr. Trump has alleged in the past.
“We did not see the danger of a coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election,” Wray said.
Mr Trump’s remarks on Wednesday came after he said he wanted the Senate to approve his next Supreme Court choice ahead of the election because he believed the court should rule on a contested outcome.
“This will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it is very important that we have nine judges,” he said of the election.
Mr Trump will unveil his choice for the ninth seat of the tribunal, which became vacant after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Saturday. He’s pushing Mr McConnell to hold a vote on his candidate ahead of the election, but some Republicans believe holding the vote afterwards would motivate more Republicans to go to the polls on November 3.
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