Trump administration officials made clear Tuesday that the White House is still not willing to recognize President-elect Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is preparing for a peaceful transition, but only to President Donald Trump’s second term—a comment that ignited a fresh storm of disgust, condemnation, and warnings.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said in a news briefing Tuesday, in what Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law called an “astounding and tyrannical statement.”
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” – Sec’y of State Mike Pompeo.
Astounding and tyrannical statement from Pompeo who seems to be living in a parallel universe. pic.twitter.com/sd8hk9XrVQ
— Kristen Clarke 866-OUR-VOTE (@KristenClarkeJD) November 10, 2020
Pompeo’s comments came a day after the White House directed federal agencies not to cooperate with Biden’s team. The General Services Administration (GSA), headed by Trump appointee Emily Murphy, has been instructed not to sign paperwork releasing $6.3 million in resources which would give Biden’s transition officials access to federal agencies.
Other agencies have followed suit, with the Veterans Affairs Department, USAID, and the EPA all telling the Washington Post Monday that they have not commenced the transition process.
An EPA spokesperson told the Post that a transition to the Biden administration was “inappropriate for us to discuss as votes are still being counted.”
With Trump’s electoral vote count standing at 214 and Biden’s at 290, votes are indeed still being counted in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alaska—but the results of the election in those states would not change the outcome that was declared Saturday by nearly every major news outlet in the country.
It is not unusual for votes to still be counted for several days after an election, contrary to Republicans’ claims of malfeasance. The president has also initiated several legal challenges to the election results, including one accusing Pennsylvania officials of running an unfair, “two-tiered” election system by allowing mail-in ballots to be counted after Election Day. Several legal experts have said the lawsuit has no standing.
Pompeo’s remarks, which included baseless allegations that “illegal votes” were cast, sparked outrage on social media on Tuesday.
“Real comforting to see the GOP continue to take our democracy and elections as a joke,” tweeted Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) of the video of Pompeo’s briefing, in which he laughed after commenting on transition to Trump’s second term.
the amount of contempt and disdain for the public it takes to make a “joke” like pompeo’s is itself noteworthy
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) November 10, 2020
Keep thinking these people are joking around. Whether or not they’d be able to pull off an actual coup may not be the point. They are toying with unstable forces among their base for the purposes of maintaining power, and they do not care who gets hurt. https://t.co/03ZbgbtdbR
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 10, 2020
Dictators around the world rejoice. Next time we scold them for not respecting the results of a democratic election, they will point to this moment. https://t.co/0tDKIACAxJ
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) November 10, 2020
Shortly after Pompeo’s press conference, the Post reported that the White House budget office is instructing federal agencies to prepare the Trump administration’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2021—months after Trump is set to leave office.
The move suggests that the administration is planning to issue a budget proposal in February as the White House usually does.
“They’re pretending nothing happened,” a Trump administration official told the Post. “We’re all supposed to pretend this is normal, and do all this work, while we know we’re just going to have to throw it away.”
Few Republican elected officials have acknowledged Biden’s victory in the election, and on Tuesday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) briskly told reporters that he has not yet congratulated the president-elect because there is “nothing to congratulate him about.”
Reporter: “Senator, have you congratulated Vice President Biden yet?”
Sen. Ron Johnson: “No.”
Reporter: “Why not?”
Johnson: “Nothing to congratulate him about.” pic.twitter.com/Is7APE2frx
— The Hill (@thehill) November 10, 2020
“Trump is declaring his intent to stay in office—despite having decisively lost the election,” tweeted foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal. “The response from Republicans: ‘Let’s give this a chance and see what happens.'”
“This is a war against America’s democracy and against 75 million American voters,” she added.