Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked outrage on Tuesday over what appeared to be a joke but was widely interpreted as echoing President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the 2020 election results.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said.
President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election, but Trump has refused to concede.
Join us at 1 PM ET Thursday for a live chat with Insider politics reporter Tom LoBianco about what’s next for Republicans — and Trump.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday was asked whether the State Department was preparing to work with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team and, if not, at which point would a delay in cooperation present a risk to national security.
In what appeared to be a joke, Pompeo responded, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
Pompeo smirked right after saying this, suggesting he was being jocular. The secretary of state’s comments came as President Donald Trump continued to push disinformation on the electoral process and reject the results of the election.
The top US diplomat went on to say, “We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place here. We’re going to count all of the votes. When the process is complete, there’ll be electors selected. There’s a process. The Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.
“The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that State Department is functional today, successful today, and successful with a president who’s in office on January 20 a minute after noon.”
He added: “I’m very confident that we will do all the things that are necessary to make sure the government, the US government will continue to perform its national security function as we go forward.”
—CSPAN (@cspan) November 10, 2020Trump has falsely declared that he won the election and baselessly accused Democrats of engaging in mass voter fraud. In this context, Pompeo’s comments on Tuesday sparked outrage on social media, and many did not appear to interpret his reference to a “second Trump administration” as a joke.
“This is incredibly reckless, dangerous, and damaging to US security,” Samantha Power, a former US ambassador to the UN, said in a tweet responding to Pompeo’s remarks.
Echoing these sentiments, Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia tweeted, “This is shocking, shameful, & dangerous…@SecPompeo is now seemingly denying the results of our elections.”
Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro said Pompeo was “undermining the rule of law and democracy here at home and around the world.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
At another moment during Tuesday’s press briefing, Pompeo berated a reporter for asking if the fact Trump has refused to concede discredits the State Department’s frequent statements encouraging free and fair elections abroad. Pompeo dismissed the question as “ridiculous.”
In a statement on Myanmar’s parliamentary elections just yesterday, for example, Pompeo said, “The United States will continue to closely monitor the electoral process. We call on all relevant authorities to ensure tabulation of votes and resolution of complaints is undertaken in a transparent and credible manner.”
Pompeo has not publicly said that Biden won the election, but the Trump administration is becoming more and more isolated as it continues to deny the results. Many world leaders, including key US allies, have congratulated Biden on his victory.
Biden on Tuesday brushed off Trump’s refusal to concede and laughed at Pompeo’s remarks regarding the transition.
“We’re already beginning the transition. We’re well underway,” Biden said. “The fact that they’re not willing to acknowledge we’ve won is not of much consequence.”
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