The leader of the Republicans in the US Senate, Mitch McConnell, on Thursday, said there would be an “orderly transition” of power following the November election after President Donald Trump declined to explicitly commit to a peaceful handover.
“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, the top Republican in Congress, tweeted.
During a Wednesday briefing at the White House, a reporter asked Trump: “Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the election?”
“We’re gonna have to see what happens,” the president answered, adding “there won’t be a transfer, frankly – there will be a continuation.”
His remarks were quickly seized upon. Republican Senator Mitt Romney tweeted: “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus.”
In 2016, when Trump first ran for office, he pledged to accept the election results if they were clear cut, and if he emerged victoriously.
Trump has been indicating in this election cycle he might seek to challenge the election results in court, a course of action taking on new meaning as he now prepares to swiftly fill a Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week.
The country has been witnessing months of unrest, largely centred around protests against police brutality and racism, and amid pushback by Trump supporters.
Trump, a Republican, is currently trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the polls.