White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly avoided saying whether President Donald Trump will agree to a “peaceful transfer of power” if he loses his reelection, instead repeating to reporters Thursday that he “will accept the results of a free and fair election.”
“If the president loses this election, will this White House, will the president assure us that there will be a peaceful transfer of power?” a reporter asked during the White House press briefing.
“The president will accept the results of a free and fair election,” responded McEnany. She repeated that same answer when asked: “Are the results of the November election legitimate only if the president wins?”
“He will accept the results of a free and fair election,” McEnany answered. “He will accept the will of the American people.”
McEnany’s suggestion that the Nov. 3 election may not be “free and fair” follows Trump repeatedly casting doubt on the nation’s electoral system, saying that if he loses it will be because the election was “rigged.”
On Wednesday, Trump also refused to say whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power. He instead told reporters: “We’re going to have to see what happens.” He gave a similar response to Fox News’ Chris Wallace in an interview in July.
Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Trump called the mail-in-voting system “a whole big scam.”
“We want to make sure the election is honest, and I am not sure that it can be,” he said while expressing agitation that some states are sending mail-in-ballots to all their registered voters in an effort to reduce the number of people voting at polls amid the coronavirus pandemic.
There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S.
FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, also said his agency has “not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”
Despite Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful exit, top Republicans vowed on Thursday that there will be a peaceful transfer of power should he lose.
“There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) tweeted.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), the third-ranking Republican in the House, also promised that “America’s leaders” will carry out their duties to the Constitution by guaranteeing a peaceful transition.
“The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and fundamental to the survival of our Republic,” she tweeted. “America’s leaders swear an oath to the Constitution. We will uphold that oath.”