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McConnell: 'Of course' there will be a peaceful transfer of power

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (R-Ky.) said Friday that he believes there will be a peaceful transition of power if President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE loses reelection.

McConnell, speaking to reporters in Kentucky, was asked if he believed there would be a peaceful handoff if Joe BidenJoe BidenIntercept bureau chief: minimum wage was not 'high priority' for Biden in COVID-19 relief South Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Obama alum Seth Harris to serve as Biden labor adviser: report MORE wins the White House, an outcome that appears increasingly likely as the Democratic nominee has taken the lead in several key states.

"Of course," McConnell responded. "We've had a peaceful transfer of power going back to 1792, every four years, we've moved on to a new administration."

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Trump set off alarm bells earlier this year when he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. He ultimately said in mid-October that he wanted a peaceful transition, while noting he expected to win.

"Peaceful transfer ... I absolutely want that, but ideally, I don't want a transfer because I want to win," Trump said at the time. 

McConnell's comments come as Trump has offered baseless claims that the election is being stolen from him in states where Biden is pulling ahead. The president's rhetoric has sparked high-profile backlash from some Republicans, who have warned that he is undermining the country's institutional underpinnings. 

McConnell, in a tweet on Friday, appeared to try to straddle a line on Trump's rhetoric, saying that “every legal vote” should be counted and "all sides must get to observe the process.” His tweet did not directly mention Trump. 

“Here’s how this must work in our great country: Every legal vote should be counted. Any illegally-submitted ballots must not. All sides must get to observe the process. And the courts are here to apply the laws & resolve disputes. That's how Americans' votes decide the result,” McConnell tweeted.

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McConnell sidestepped multiple questions during the press conference in Kentucky on Friday about Trump's rhetoric. 

"Let me just say with regard to the matter I know you are all concerned about, about the unfolding presidential election, I sent out a statement on Twitter this morning that I think you've all gotten and beyond that I don't have anything to say on that particular subject," McConnell said at the beginning of the press conference.

Asked what he would do if Trump doesn't accept the results of the election, he responded: "I'm not going to answer any hypothetical about where we go from here."

He also maintained that he had "covered" the subject of potential voter fraud.

"I've already covered the subject, I told you," he said when asked if he had seen any evidence of voter fraud. "I sent out a tweet this morning which covers my view of where we are."