Senate

McConnell pushes back on Trump: 'There will be an orderly transition'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that there would be an "orderly" transition of power in 2021, after President Trump refused to commit to a peaceful handoff of power if he loses in November. 

"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 said in a tweet.  

Trump set off a political firestorm on Wednesday when he told reporters at the White House, when asked if he would commit to ensuring a peaceful transition of power if he loses in November, that he would have to "see what happens" and tried once again to sow doubt about the security of mail-in ballots. 

"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."

Trump has declined to commit to accepting the results of the November election, saying he will "have to see." He's also argued that an increase in mail-in voting leads to fraud in the election, even though experts have repeatedly said there is no evidence tying it to meaningful fraud. 

The comment from McConnell, while not directly criticizing Trump, is notable because the tight-lipped GOP leader frequently refuses to weigh in on the president's remarks, even when they spark backlash from members of his caucus. 

Other GOP senators predicted on Thursday that there would be a peaceful transition of power, though many did not directly criticize Trump for his remarks.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said during an interview with Fox News that he believed a transition of power next year would be peaceful.

"I can assure it will be peaceful," he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters that "my view is, we're going to have a free, fair and legitimate election in this country." 

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) didn't directly mention Trump but called not committing to a peaceful transition "unthinkable and unacceptable." Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, told CNN on Thursday that "the president says crazy stuff." 

"We've always had a peaceful transition of power. It's not going to change," he added.

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