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Legislators are pushing towards Trump's refusal to decide to a peaceable switch of energy


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Speaks during her weekly press conference at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday, September 24, 2020.

Caroline Brehman | CQ Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images

A day after President Donald Trump refused to promise a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the 2020 elections, lawmakers pushed his statements back.

"I'm confident that he won't get away with saying, for example, I won with … the on-site vote, the vote in the post doesn't count and the rest of it," said House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Told reporters on Thursday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Thursday, "The president will accept the results of a free and fair election."

At a press conference on Wednesday Trump said, "We have to see what happens" when it comes to whether he would hand over his office peacefully.

"I complained very badly about the ballot papers. And the ballot papers are a disaster," Trump said, apparently referring to postal ballot papers. Trump has repeatedly expressed doubts about the legitimacy of postal ballot papers as a voting mechanism, claiming – with no evidence – that they are prone to massive fraud. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many more voters are expected to vote in this election via email for health reasons. Trump himself voted by mail.

At a Congressional hearing on Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency had "not seen coordinated national electoral fraud efforts in major elections, whether by mail or otherwise."

Democrats are increasingly concerned about how the unusual circumstances caused by the pandemic will affect the outcome of the election and transfer of power if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the election. With more voters to vote by mail, many expect the election day race to only take place if a candidate wins a landslide.

This could leave room for candidates to question the election result. Social media companies are already preparing for the possibility that a candidate can claim a victory early. And since a seat on the Supreme Court is open after Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death last week, a more conservative court can vote on the election result if it ends in a legal challenge.

Speaking at a Senate Justice Committee meeting Thursday, Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Said he would accept any Supreme Court decision if the election result hits that point. Graham's committee is tasked with reviewing those appointed by the judiciary and said it will support Trump's efforts to occupy Ginsburg's seat, contradicting his 2016 statements that the next president should make the appointment if shortly before the election a position becomes vacant.

"The bottom line is that the court will decide what I'll accept," Graham said on Thursday. "Al Gore's greatest legacy to me in many ways is what he did after he lost. He accepted a Supreme Court result that was 5-4, like 500 votes in the state of Florida. How many places in the world would transfer of power become peaceful under these circumstances? How many places in the world actually have a peaceful transfer of power initially? "

Graham added: "There is no alternative to a peaceful transfer of power."

"The winner of the November 3 election will be unveiled on January 20," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said in a tweet Thursday. "There will be an orderly transition, as it has been every four years since 1792."

Some Twitter users pointed out that McConnell's language left room for interpretation as many votes are expected not to be counted by election night.

In statements on Twitter, several other Republicans affirmed a peaceful transition, despite not calling out Trump by name or directly referring to his comments.

"Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful change of power. Without this there is Belarus," tweeted Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has criticized Trump. "Any suggestion that a president does not respect this constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable."

"As we have been doing for over two centuries, we will have a legitimate and fair election," tweeted Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla. "It may take longer than usual for the result to be known, but it will be a valid one [.]. And on January 20, 2021 we will peacefully conjure the President."

Kevin McCarthy, minority chairman of the House of Representatives, R-Calif., Said Thursday, "There will be a very peaceful transition," according to the New York Times. He added that Democrats like "Hillary Clinton who said she never conceded the race" should be asked the same question.

Clinton's comments that the race was denied were related to the potentially incomplete results that could come out on election day due to the expected spike in mail-in votes. In an interview published in August, she said that Biden should "under no circumstances give in" on election day as it could take longer to find the winner.

Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, tweeted, "Smart candidates never admit anything before an election. They focus on what it takes to win."

Correction: In an earlier version, the title of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was incorrectly stated.

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