Donald Trump will accept the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, the White House said on Thursday, a day after the Republican president drew criticism for refusing to commit to accepting those results.
“The president will accept the results of a free and fair election,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a news briefing when pressed on Trump’s comments on Wednesday, which prompted fellow Republicans in Congress to convey support for a peaceful transition of power.
The statement follows US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans repudiation of president Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, and assuring American voters the lawmakers would accept the outcome of November’s election.
Trump declined on Wednesday to embrace a peaceful transfer in response to a reporter’s question and said he expected his election battle with Democrat Joe Biden to be settled by the Supreme Court.
The Republican president’s exchange with reporters set off a fury that prompted several Republicans in Congress to distance themselves from Trump.
Despite nearly four years of incendiary statements by Trump, members of his own party have regularly been loath to criticize him, as many feared political retribution.
“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 wrote in a morning tweet.
For months Trump has cast the November election as being rigged and repeatedly attacked Democrats for promoting the widespread use of mail-in ballots for voters who do not want to risk contracting the deadly COVID-19 virus by casting their ballots at potentially crowded polling centers.
In an interview on Fox News Radio, Trump called mail-in ballots “a horror show,” despite studies showing no significant problems with that method of voting over the years.
Democrats accused Trump of threatening American democracy and further politicizing his upcoming choice to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by suggesting the yet-to-be named nominee would intervene in the election’s outcome.
Some of McConnell’s fellow Republicans joined the effort to quell election fears, including Senators Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who told reporters: “It will be a smooth transition regardless of the outcome.”
Trump, who trails Biden in national opinion polls, has long sought to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, asserting without evidence that mail-in voting would be rife with fraud.
“President Trump, you are not a dictator and America will not permit you to be one,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who took to the Senate floor to call the president “the gravest threat” to U.S. democracy.