Politics Prominent Republicans Speak of Peaceful Transfer of Power After Trump's Election Comments Stoke Fear
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After President Donald Trump declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power following the November 3 election, several prominent Republicans have voiced their commitment to a peaceful transition as mandated by the Constitution.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump did not commit to a peaceful transition. Instead, he reiterated his concerns that the election will be marred by voting fraud—despite a lack of evidence. "We'll see what happens," the president said.
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"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 said. "The ballots are out of control. You know it, and, you know, who knows it better than anyone else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else."
Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican who has frequently clashed publicly with Trump and was the only GOP senator to vote to remove the president following his impeachment earlier this year, was quick to raise concerns about Trump's comments.
Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, drawing fierce pushback from Democrats and Mitt Romney
"We're going to have to see what happens," Trump told reporters. The US has not had a violent transfer of power in its 244-year history as a nation."Win, lose, or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?" a reporter asked Trump during a press conference, citing growing unrest across the country over police brutality.
"Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable," Romney tweeted on Wednesday evening.
Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 24, 2020
Since August, Belarus has faced large-scale protests following contested election results that showed President Alexander Lukashenko winning re-election with about 80 percent of the vote. The European Union and the U.S. have said the election was "neither free nor fair."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, also appeared to push back against concerns about a peaceful transition with a Thursday morning Twitter post.
"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 wrote.
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Louisville, Ky., is the latest American city to see peaceful protests transform into violent riots and "anarchy," Donald Trump Jr. said Wednesday during an appearance on “Hannity”“There are peaceful protesters doing the right thing and I think that's wonderful," the president's eldest son told host Sean Hannity. "That's very American. But what's going on, when police officers are shot, when Democrat mayors are turning a blind eye, when they're more worried about protecting arsonists, vandals, looters and outright criminals than they are about the citizens of these towns? It is absolutely disgusting.
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.— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 24, 2020
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, went on Twitter Thursday morning to insist that the election's outcome will be peaceful.
"As we have done for over two centuries we will have a legitimate & fair election. It may take longer than usual to know the outcome, but it will be a valid one," Rubio wrote. "And at noon on Jan 20, 2021, we will peacefully swear in the President."
As we have done for over two centuries we will have a legitimate & fair election
It may take longer than usual to know the outcome,but it will be a valid one
And at noon on Jan 20,2021 we will peacefully swear in the President— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 24, 2020
Representative Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, shared a similar message on Thursday.
"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," she tweeted.
The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and fundamental to the survival of our Republic. Americaâs leaders swear an oath to the Constitution. We will uphold that oath.
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Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and staunch Trump loyalist, suggested in a Thursday morning interview with Fox News that the results of the election would likely end up before the Supreme Court. But he insisted that Republicans and Democrats would accept the outcome, regardless of the results.
"We will accept the court's decision, Republican and Democrat. I promise you as a Republican, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Joe Biden, I will accept that result," Graham said. "My hope is that we have such an overwhelming victory we don't have to worry about the courts."
Newsweek reached out to the White House as well as several other GOP lawmakers for comment, but they did not respond in time for publication.
With nearly 40 days until the election, nearly all recent national polls suggest that Joe Biden is favored to win. The current Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight averages of national polls show Biden ahead by more than 7 percentage points nationwide. Polling out of key battleground states—Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin—suggest the Democratic nominee is favored to win in all six, although the race is tight in Florida and North Carolina.
Prominent Democrats and some anti-Trump Republicans have raised alarms that the president could refuse to leave office, even if Biden comes out as the clear winner. Bipartisan groups of academics, as well as current and former government officials, have even held discussions, hashing out a range of scenarios and possible responses if Trump refuses to step aside.
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The president has swiftly faced criticism from Democrat lawmakers over his remarks upon how he might behave post-election.The different ways Trump and Biden talk about gun violence
Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, has warned of a "nightmare scenario" if Trump refuses to leave office.
"We are living in an unprecedented and dangerous moment—extremely dangerous moment—in American history," the senator told The New York Times this week.
Updated September 24, 2020 at 10:45 a.m.: A tweet from Senator McConnell has been added.
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