U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday sparked fresh questions about whether the Trump administration is actively trying to thwart the will of the American people expressed in the U.S. election.
In a press conference in Washington, D.C., a reporter asked Pompeo about reports in recent days that administration officials and the heads of multiple government agencies are blocking or stalling standard efforts to brief the transition team of president-elect Joe Biden.
“Is the State Department currently preparing to engage with the Biden transition team? If not, at what point does a delay hamper the smooth transition and pose a risk to national security?” the reporter asked.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo answered.
“We’re ready, the world is watching what’s taking place. We’re going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there’ll be electors selected. There’s a process — the Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.”
“The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today and successful with a president who’s in office on Jan. 20, a minute after noon, will also be successful,” he added.
“I went through a transition on the front — I’ve been on the other side of this — I’m very confident that we will do all the things that are necessary to make the government, the United States government, continue to perform effectively the national security function as we go forward.”
Some online have speculated Pompeo’s remarks might be a joke.
However, they come in a climate of escalating tensions as the Trump administration refuses to recognize the results of the U.S. election, and Pompeo did not give any clarification.
Biden said in a press conference shortly after Pompeo’s remarks that his team is already beginning the transition and that “nothing’s going to stop that.”
He called U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election “an embarrassment.”
Biden is projected to be the winner based on the leads he gained from legal mail-in and advance ballots that took four days to be counted in key swing states like Pennsylvania because of state laws prohibiting the early counting of advance ballots.
Trump administration officials, however, have repeatedly and falsely claimed those mail-in and advance ballots are fraudulent, and launched multiple lawsuits attempting to get them thrown out.
However, those challenges are only in states where Biden is leading, while the Trump campaign has raised no objections to the late counting of mail-in and advance ballots in states Trump won.
Multiple courts have so far tossed the challenges, citing the fact there is zero evidence of voter fraud.
Mail-in and advance ballots have been cast successfully for decades, but have in large part been used by the military and others serving overseas.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, prompted an unprecedented surge in the number of people voting by mail and voting early in an effort to avoid long lines and crowds on Election Day.
Major news networks including the esteemed Associated Press waited days to project a winner because the large number of mail-in and advance ballots yet to be counted posed a risk that early Trump gains from in-person votes would be wiped out once the other legal votes were counted.
Once the vast majority of those mail-in and advance ballots were counted, they favoured Biden by a strong margin. He now tops Trump by tens of thousands of votes in key swing states that play a pivotal role in deciding the presidency through their number of Electoral College votes.
Victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Ohio and Pennsylvania — which are projected based on public vote data, but as in years past will take several weeks to formally certify — are how news networks were able to project that Biden is the winner, the president-elect.
–With file from the Associated Press.