Trump will accept results of free-and-fair presidential polls: White House
Washington, Sep 25: President Donald Trump will accept the results of a "free and fair" election, his press secretary has said, allaying fears triggered after he yet again sowed doubts about the legitimacy of mail-in ballots and refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the November 3 presidential polls.
Asked whether he will leave the White House peacefully if he loses the election, Trump responded: "Well, we're going to have to see what happens." "We are going to have to see what happens, you know that. I have been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster...," Trump told reporters at a White House news conference on Wednesday.
Trump's remarks caused an uproar, with lawmakers from the Democratic Party as well as from the president's own Republican Party rejecting his comments, insisting the winner of November's election will be sworn in next January.
Responding to a question from a reporter on Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday: "The president will accept the results of a free and fair election. But I think that your question is more fitting to be asked of Democrats, who have already been on the record saying they will not accept the results of an election.
"I am referring to the president being asked if there would be a peaceful transfer of power and he did not say yes. So I am asking, will there be a peaceful transfer of power if he loses this election?" the reporter asked.
"I believe that question asked by the Playboy reporter - in fact, I think, have it right here - he (Trump) was asked win, lose or draw, whether he would accept the transfer of power. I am not entirely sure if he won, why would he accept a transfer of power. That is maybe the deranged wish of that reporter, but that is not how governing works," McEnany said.
Trump has questioned the legitimacy of voting by mail-in ballot in the past, claimed that it is susceptible to massive fraud.
During an interview with Fox News earlier this year, Trump didn't commit to accepting the election results either, saying "I have to see." Trump’s attacks on the balloting have led to concerns that he is undermining the trust in the election process and will contest the results if he loses. McEnany referred to several comments made by the Democrats in the past, apparently questioning the validity of an election.
"South Carolina Democrat Jim Clyburn has said Trump is not going to win fairly. Senator Barbara Boxer has said the only way Trump will win is to steal it. That is according to Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer," she said.
"The Washington Post has noted - they have a headline - 'Democrats may not trust the results of the election if Trump wins'. And then you have that beautiful quote from Hillary Clinton that Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstance," she said, adding that this is more a fitting question for the Democrats.
"The president will accept the results of a free and fair election. He will accept the will of the American people," McEnany asserted. Noting that the president wants to get rid of the mass mail-out voting, she said it not because he has said clearly that that could go either way, but could damage either candidate's chances as it is a system that is subject to fraud.
"In fact, in the last 24 hours, police in Greenville, Wisconsin found mail in a ditch and it included absentee ballots. And also, I can confirm for you that Trump ballots, ballots for the president, were found in Pennsylvania. And I believe you should be getting more information on that shortly. Here in the last 24 hours, they were found cast aside. "The president has always made the distinction that absentee ballots, where you go through a process, where you request a ballot and you mail that in, that is a system that works," the press secretary said.
"But a system where you mass mail out to voter rolls, which are not kept and maintained, where in Los Angeles County, for instance, you have 120 per cent of the county enrolled, that system is untenable. It does not work. It leads to what we saw in Nevada, where there were ballots languishing in trash cans and pinned to apartment boards," she added.
Trump's remarks caused a furore, with several lawmakers reacting to his statement. Questioned about Trump’s comments, Democratic nominee Joe Biden asked: "What country are we in? He says the most irrational things."
Republican Senator Mitt Romney, of Utah, also criticised the president's words, writing in a tweet, "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted: "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."
When asked if Trump would accept a peaceful transfer of power, House Nancy Speaker Pelosi told reporters: "We know who he admires. [Vladimir] Putin. Kim Jong-un. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan. You are not in Russia. He is not in North Korea. He is not in Turkey. He’s trying to have the Constitution of the United States swallow Clorox." "Get rid of voting, get rid of the ballots, just let him stay in power for whatever illicit way he chooses to do so. That’s what he’s saying," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.