Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who almost never publicly pushes back against Trump, said whoever wins the election will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
“There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792,” McConnell tweeted.
Earlier Thursday, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), the third-ranking Republican in the House, promised that “America’s leaders” would carry out their duties to the Constitution by guaranteeing a peaceful transition.
“The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and fundamental to the survival of our Republic,” Cheney tweeted. “America’s leaders swear an oath to the Constitution. We will uphold that oath.”
Asked at a press briefing Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses reelection, Trump said, “We’re gonna have to see what happens.”
“You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots,” the president said, referring to mail-in ballots.
Trump has repeatedly spread misinformation about mail-in ballots, which he and several top White House aides have used to vote in previous elections. Election officials have denied his claims that mail-in ballots facilitate voter fraud.
“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a peaceful ― there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation,” Trump said Wednesday. “The ballots are out of control. You know it.”
As the election draws nearer and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continues to outperform Trump in national polls, Trump has been laying the groundwork to declare the election illegitimate. He has claimed that mail-in ballots would result in a “rigged” election and undermined the U.S. Postal Service, the agency tasked with processing those ballots.
A handful of other Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Mitt Romney (Utah), reiterated the importance of the peaceful transfer of power following Trump’s remarks Wednesday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, told Fox News on Thursday that the election results may face litigation in the Supreme Court, but that Republicans would “accept” the results if they lose.
“We need a nine-person Supreme Court,” said Graham, who has been pushing, along with other top Republicans, for a swift vote in the Senate to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the bench.
“And people wonder about the peaceful transfer of power, I can assure you it will be peaceful,” Graham continued. “Now we may have litigation about who won the election, but the court will decide and if Republicans lose we will accept that result.”
Trump said Wednesday that he wants a ninth justice to be confirmed before Election Day, in case the election is contested all the way to the Supreme Court. If Republicans succeed in filling Ginsburg’s seat, the court will have a 6-3 conservative majority.
Some Republicans were less than willing to explicitly promise a peaceful transfer of power should Trump lose the election. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the House’s top Republican, said during a press briefing Thursday that he believes there will be a “smooth transition” and that Trump “will have a very good inaugural.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday that Trump would accept the results of “a free and fair election.” But the president has made clear that he doesn’t believe this year’s election will be fair, falsely claiming that Democrats could only win by cheating.