President Donald Trump on Sept. 24 said he'll respect the November election results if the Supreme Court rules that Joe Biden won, coming after he made comments to reporters about the presidential transition of power.
His remarks came as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said a presidential transition after the November elections would be orderly and consistent with U.S. historical precedents.
“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792,” McConnell said in a statement on Sept. 24.
Trump declined an opportunity on Sept. 23 to endorse the peaceful transfer of power. The president has frequently expressed concerns about voter fraud amid a surge in mail-in voting as well as nationwide riots and unrest.
When asked about whether he would “commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the November election,” Trump said it isn’t clear what will happen.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” he said. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
A reporter then said that “people are rioting,” to which Trump replied: “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful—there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”
Trump, since the start of the pandemic, has repeatedly assailed and raised awareness about the perils of mail-in voting, saying that it could lead to extensive delays or election fraud.
At the same time, the president said the election could head to the Supreme Court, saying the court needs nine justices on the bench to render an appropriate decision. On Sept. 18, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at age 87, setting the stage for a precarious nominating process in the Senate amid threats from Democrats to “pack the courts” and invoke rules to delay the confirmation hearings.
Some Republican members of Congress, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), have attempted to compare Trump’s comments about the transfer of power to the regime of longtime Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has faced historic protests in recent months over election results.
“Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” Romney wrote on Sept. 24. “Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”