McEnany says Trump will accept result of ‘free and fair election’
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday said President Trump would accept the results of a “free and fair election” while continuing to sow doubt about the legitimacy of voting by mail-in ballot.
McEnany was pressed at a White House briefing on the president’s comments a day earlier, when he declined to commit to a peaceful transition of power.
“The president will accept the results of a free and fair election,” McEnany said.
“But I think that your question is more fitting to be asked of Democrats,” she continued, citing comments from Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who has previously suggested Trump doesn’t plan to leave office, as well as Hillary Clinton’s recent advice that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should not concede the election.
McEnany declined to directly respond when asked if the results of the election are only legitimate if the president wins.
“The president will accept the results of a free and fair election,” she repeated. “He will accept the will of the American people.”
She went on to rail against the use of mail-in ballots, citing incidents where mail has ended up in a ditch in Wisconsin.
The White House has repeatedly argued that the “mass” distribution of ballots could lead to a “rigged” or “fraudulent” result, even as Trump on Thursday afternoon urged his supporters in Florida to request mail ballots.
Experts have said there is scant evidence of meaningful fraud connected to mail-in voting, which is increasingly being used this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers on Thursday that the bureau has not seen any coordinated fraud related to mail ballots.
Trump caused an uproar on Wednesday when he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power regardless of the outcome of the election.
“We’re going to have to see what happens, you know, but I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. The ballots are a disaster,” Trump told reporters at a White House briefing.
Republican lawmakers widely rejected the president’s comments, insisting the winner of November’s election will be sworn in next January.
“I can assure it will be peaceful,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
“We’ve always had a peaceful transition of power. It’s not going to change,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said.