Par­ties prom­ise or­derly elec­tion

Con­gres­sional lead­ers re­ject Trump’s at­tacks.

The Times-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - BY LISA MASCARO, AAMER MADHANI AND KEVIN FREK­ING MCCON­NELL

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­fusal to com­mit to a peace­ful trans­fer of power if he loses drew swift blow­back Thurs­day from both par­ties in Congress, and law­mak­ers turned to un­prece­dent- ed steps to en­sure he can’t ig­nore the vote of the peo­ple.

Amid the up­roar,

Trump said anew he’s not sure the elec­tion will be “hon­est.”

Con­gres­sional lead­ers, in­clud­ing Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mccon­nell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, re­jected Trump’s as­ser­tion that he’ll “see what hap­pens” be­fore agree­ing to any elec­tion out­come.

Many other law­mak­ers — in­clud­ing from Trump’s own Repub­li­can Party — vowed to make sure vot­ers’ wishes

are fol­lowed ahead of In­au­gu­ra­tion Day in Jan­uary. And some Democrats were tak­ing ac­tion, in­clud­ing for­mally ask­ing Trump’s de­fense sec­re­tary, home­land se­cu­rity ad­viser and at­tor­ney gen­eral to de­clare they’ll sup­port the Nov. 3 re­sults, who­ever wins.

Asked as he de­parted the White House for a cam­paign rally if the elec­tion is only le­git­i­mate if he is the win­ner, Trump said, “We’ll see.”

The pres­i­dent said he wants to “make sure the elec­tion is hon­est, and I’m not sure that it can be.”

Trump’s at­tacks on the up­com­ing vote — al­most with­out mod­ern prece­dent in the U.S. — are hit­ting amid the tu­mult of the cam­paign, as par­ti­san ten­sions rage and more Amer­i­cans than ever are plan­ning to vote by mail be­cause of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

It’s not the first time he has sowed doubts about the vot­ing process. But his in­creased ques­tion­ing be­fore any re­sult is set­ting off alarms ahead of an Elec­tion Day like no other. Even with­out signs of il­le­gal­ity, re­sults could be de­layed be­cause of the pan­demic, leav­ing the na­tion ex­posed to groups or for­eign coun­tries seek­ing to pro­voke dis­cord.

Mccon­nell, the GOP Se­nate leader, said in a tweet: “The win­ner of the Novem­ber 3rd elec­tion will be in­au­gu­rated on Jan­uary 20th.” He said, “There will be an or­derly tran­si­tion just as there has been ev­ery four years since 1792.”

Said Pelosi, “Calm down, Mr. Pres­i­dent.”

“You are in the United States of Amer­ica. It is a democ­racy,” she said, re­mind­ing Trump this is not North Korea, Rus­sia or other coun­tries with strong­man lead­ers he ad­mires. “So why don’t you just try for a mo­ment to honor our oath of of­fice to the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States.”

Trump is fan­ning the un­cer­tainty as he floats the­o­ries the elec­tion may be “rigged” if he loses, echo­ing warn­ings he made ahead of the 2016 vot­ing — even though past elec­tions have not shown sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence of fraud from mail-in vot­ing.

Dur­ing a Wed­nes­day news con­fer­ence, Trump said, “We’re go­ing to have to see what hap­pens,” re­spond­ing to a ques­tion about com­mit­ting to the re­sults. “You know that I’ve been com­plain­ing very strongly about the bal­lots, and the bal­lots are a dis­as­ter.”

Re­ac­tion to his com­ment was strong from Capi­tol Hill — from both par­ties.

Lind­sey Gra­ham, a Trump ally and the GOP chair of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, told “Fox & Friends” on Thurs­day, “If Repub­li­cans lose we will ac­cept the re­sult. If the Supreme Court rules in fa­vor of Joe Bi­den, I will ac­cept that re­sult.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wy­oming, a mem­ber of the House GOP lead­er­ship, tweeted: “The peace­ful trans­fer of power is en­shrined in our Con­sti­tu­tion and fun­da­men­tal to the sur­vival of our Repub­lic. Amer­ica’s lead­ers swear an oath to the Con­sti­tu­tion. We will up­hold that oath.”

Joe Bi­den, the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, was in­cred­u­lous, “What coun­try are we in?” he said late Wed­nes­day of Trump’s com­ment. “Look, he says the most ir­ra­tional things. I don’t know what to say about it. But it doesn’t sur­prise me.”

On Capi­tol Hill, Trump’s pos­si­ble re­fusal to ac­cept the elec­tion re­sults has been dis­cussed pri­vately for weeks as law­mak­ers con­sider op­tions. One se­na­tor said re­cently it was the big­gest topic of pri­vate dis­cus­sions.

Two House Democrats, Reps. Mikie Sher­ill of New Jer­sey and Elissa Slotkin of Michi­gan — both mem­bers of the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee — are for­mally ask­ing mem­bers of Trump’s Cab­i­net to go on record and com­mit to up­hold­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion and peace­ful tran­si­tion.

PELOSI

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