WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers pushed back Thursday after President Donald Trump again declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he questions the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Trump said during a Wednesday news conference, “We’re going to have to see what happens,” responding to a question. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
But McConnell and other Republicans had no hesitation in committing to an orderly transfer if Trump loses.
“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th,” McConnell said in a tweet. “There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio’s 15th District), who represents Clinton County, released a public statement early Thursday.
“Nothing defines our Constitutional Republic more than the peaceful transition of power. I’ve taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I will uphold that oath. Regardless of how divided our country is right now, when elections are over and winners are declared, we must all commit ourselves to the Constitution and accept the results.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) tweeted Thursday morning, “Throughout America’s history, the peaceful transition of power has been a hallmark of our democracy. This year, both candidates must commit to abiding by the results, no matter the outcome.”
Portman continued, “Under our system, the American people decide through their votes and the political leaders follow the will of the people. The peaceful transfer of power is essential to this constitutional guarantee and must be protected.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and 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.”
Trump also declined four years ago to commit to honoring the election results if his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, won.
Trump has been pressing a months-long campaign against mail-in voting this November by tweeting and speaking out critically about the practice. More states are encouraging mail-in voting to keep voters safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
The president has made a distinction between states that automatically send mail ballots to all registered voters, and those, like Florida, that send them only to voters who request a mail ballot.
Trump has claimed widespread mail voting will lead to massive fraud. The five states that routinely send mail ballots to all voters have seen no significant fraud.
In a July interview, Trump similarly refused to commit to accepting the results.
“I have to see. Look … I have to see,” Trump told Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging July interview 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 either.”
Trump made similar comments ahead of the 2016 election. When asked during an October 2016 debate whether he would abide by the voters’ will, Trump responded that he would “keep you in suspense.”