Appearing amid Donald Trump’s and Republican attempts to cast doubt on his victory, President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday laughed off the potential impact of members of the current administration digging in and making baseless allegations of electoral fraud.
Biden’s appearance came shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told members of the press that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” Pompeo may have been joking.
When asked about Pompeo’s remark, Biden laughed and then repeated his name.
Trump has not conceded, even though Biden looks to end up with 306 electoral votes and a substantial victory in the popular vote. Meanwhile, Trump’s administration reportedly has refused to release transition funds.
Biden said: “I just think it is an embarrassment, quite frankly. How can I say this tactfully. It will not help the president’s legacy.” He noted that he has spoken to a number of foreign leaders who have expressed their hope that the U.S. maintain a peaceful transition of power.
The president-elect also said that “the whole Republican Party has been put into the position with a few notable exceptions of being mildly intimidated by the sitting president. But there is only one president at a time. He is president. The Electoral College will be making their judgment in December and it will be announced in early January.” Biden said that he hoped to get a chance to speak to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is among those who have so far refused to acknowledge Biden as the winner.
Trump’s actions since the race was called Saturday have triggered worry and concern over a smooth transition of power, but Biden did not project any sense of worry, insisting that they are preparing to take office anyway.
“I think at the end of the day, it is all going to come to fruition on January 20,” he said.
Biden said that he and Trump have not spoken since the election. Asked what he would say to his rival, Biden said, “I look forward to speaking to you.”
Trump’s refusal to concede is a contrast to that of his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, who called him on Election Night in 2016 to tell him that he won the race even though she had a popular vote lead. Trump and his campaign have made unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, lacking evidence of any systemic cases or claims that would affect the outcome. Still, Republicans have said that Trump should be allowed to pursue his claims, while many in right wing media, including Fox News hosts, have engaged in innuendo to try to make it appear as if Biden’s victory may not be legitimate.
If Trump does not accept the outcome even after Biden is declared the victor by the Electoral College, Biden would still become president at noon on January 20. But the real concern is that Trump will continue to sow doubt among his supporters that Biden won the election. It’s not even difficult to imagine a scenario where Trump eventually concedes the election, but then backtracks on that for years to come.