Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that there would “be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” in the coming months — shrugging off a question about a transfer of power by President Donald Trump even as America’s allies began calling to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.
The remarks from Pompeo came during a news conference at the State Department, after he was asked whether the department was preparing to engage with Biden’s transition team and was pressed on the potential national security risks posed by a delayed transition of power.
Although it was unclear whether Pompeo was joking, he refused to acknowledge the outcome of the White House race and insisted that the election was still in the process of being determined. His rhetoric echoed other statements by the president’s allies and congressional Republicans lending credence to the Trump campaign’s voting-related legal challenges.
“We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place here,” Pompeo said. “We’re going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there will be electors selected. There’s a process. The Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.”
The international community “should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today, and successful with the president who is in office on Jan. 20, a minute after noon, will also be successful,” Pompeo said, referring to the date on which the next president will be inaugurated.
Pompeo, who served as CIA director at the outset of the Trump administration, also noted that he “went through a transition on the front end,” after the 2016 election. “I’ve been on the other side of this. I’m very confident that we will do all the things that are necessary to make sure that the government … will continue to perform its national security functions as we go forward,” he said.
The decision by America’s top diplomat to deny Trump’s election loss came as news broke of several world leaders reaching out to make contact with Biden. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister both tweeted that they spoke with the president-elect by phone. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly called him, as well.
Pompeo said Tuesday that he was “getting calls from all across the world” about the U.S. election, and that foreign observers “understand that we have a legal process” and “understand that this takes time.” But he refused to say explicitly whether he supported the baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud leveled by the Trump campaign.
“I am very confident that we will count — and we must count — every legal vote,” Pompeo said, later flashing anger when asked whether Trump’s refusal to concede discredited State Department efforts to encourage free and fair elections around the globe.
“That’s ridiculous,” he told a reporter. “And you know it’s ridiculous. And you asked it because it’s ridiculous.”
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