WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday voiced confidence that once every ‘legal’ vote was count, it would lead to a ‘second Trump Administration’, appearing to reject Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.
He spoke as world leaders, including Washington’s close allies Britain and France, already have congratulated President-elected Biden. Trump, a Republican, has so far refused to concede and made baseless claims that fraud was marring the results.
‘There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump Administration’, Pompeo told a State Department news conference. He later sought to assure the world that America’s post-election transition would be successful.
‘We’re going to count all the votes… The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make that the State Department is … successful today and successful when the president who’s in office on January 20, a minute after noon, will also be successful’.
Biden, due to take office on Jan 20, 2021, risks a delayed transition as Trump has vowed to push with longshot legal challenges to his election loss. Republican U.S. lawmakers defended his right to do so.
When asked about Pompeo’s comments, Biden smiled. He also said nothing would stop the transfer of power in the U.S. government.
Asked if Trump’s refusal to concede hampers State Department efforts to promote free and fair elections abroad, Pompeo, a close ally and appointee of Trump’s, decline to address the specific question but said: ‘This department cares deeply to make sure that elections around the world are safe and secure and free and fair’.
The leading Republican in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, has carefully backed Trump, saying that he was ‘100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities’, without citing any evidence.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee who heads the Justice Department, on Monday told federal prosecutors to ‘pursue substantial allegations’ of irregularities of voting and the counting of ballots.
Richard Boucher, a retired diplomat who was the longest – serving State Department spokesman, said Pompeo’s comment about a second Trump administration could be passed off as a joke but also served to protect him from White House criticism.
Democrat Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the State Department should begin preparing for Biden’s transition now. ‘Secretary Pompeo shouldn’t play along with baseless and dangerous attacks on the legitimacy of last week’s election’, he said.
In his first official travel after the Nov.3 election, Pompeo is travel to France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, Qatar, United Arab EmirateS and Saudi Arabia between Nov. 13-23. The leaders of some of those countries have already congratulated Biden.