Nov 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pompeo refuses to say Biden has won election

Asked by a reporter Tuesday if the State Department is preparing to engage with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded: "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

Why it matters: Pompeo, the country's top diplomat, is standing by President Trump and his allies' claims that the election is not over and that the president has the right to pursue legal challenges. It comes as leaders all over the world who Pompeo deals with are publicly congratulating Biden on his projected victory.

What he's saying: "We're ready. The world is watching what's taking place here. We're going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there will be electors selected," Pompeo said.

  • "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 the president who's in office on Jan. 20, a minute after noon, will also be successful."
  • "I'm very confident that we will do all the things that are necessary to make sure that the government, the United States government, continues to perform its national security function as we go forward."

Asked by a reporter whether Trump's refusal to concede undermines the State Department's commitment to free and fair elections around the world, Pompeo responded: "That's a ridiculous question and you're ridiculous for asking it."

Of note: Pompeo emphasized the normality of a winner being announced after Election Day — a point that Trump has contested — by pointing to the 2000 legal battle that ended in former Vice President Al Gore's concession.

  • "It took us 37 plus days in an election back in 2000. We conducted a successful transition then," the secretary of state said.

Yes, but: Pompeo appeared to repeat Trump's call to count "legal votes," instead of "illegal votes" — terms the president has used to advance his baseless allegations that Democrats stole the election from him.

  • "I'm very confident that we will count, and we must count, every legal vote. We must make sure that any vote that wasn't lawful will not be counted, that dilutes your vote if it's done improperly. Gotta get that right. When we get it right, we'll get it right. We're in good shape," Pompeo said.
Go deeper