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GOP leaders split with Trump on peaceful transfer of power

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Republican leaders are pushing back Thursday on President Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the November 3rd election.

Trump was asked at a news conference at the White House Wednesday:

REPORTER: "Would you commit here today for a peaceful transfer of all power after the election?"

TRUMP: "Well, we are going to have to see what happens. You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster [FLASH] Get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful. There won’t be a transfer. Frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”

The president, who trails Democratic nominee Joe Biden in national opinion polls, has repeatedly cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, asserting without evidence that mail-in ballots would lead to fraud and a "rigged" outcome.

And Trump calling to "get rid of the ballots" and arguing "there won't be a transfer...there'll be a continuation" rankled Republican leadership.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, "There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792."

Senator Mitt Romney tweeted, "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus."

Senator Marco Rubio: "As we have done for over two centuries we will have a legitimate & fair election It may take longer than usual to know the outcome, but it will be a valid one."

In 2016, trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls, Trump also raised questions about whether he would accept the results of the election. He went on to win the presidency, and yet still claimed without evidence that millions of illegal immigrants voted against him.

Biden, speaking to reporters in Delaware Wednesday, said Trump's comments on the transition of power were "irrational."

"One concern I have is what he'll try to do to ruin this election. There is no no concern for mail-in ballots. And by the way, he sits up in Washington at the Resolute Desk and he mails in his ballot to vote absentee in Florida."

Trump also said at the White House Wednesday that he believed the election might be decided not at the ballot box but at the highest court in the land.

"I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling - it's a scam. This scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation."

The president is pushing to replace the seat vacated by the death of liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg quickly and says he will announce his pick on Saturday.

A Senate confirmation vote before the election would seal a 6-3 conservative majority on the court.

Video Transcript

- Republican leaders are pushing back Thursday on President Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the November 3 election. Trump was asked at a news conference at the White House Wednesday.

- Will you commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the election?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster. Get rid of the ballots, and you'll have a very-- we'll have a very peaceful-- there won't be a transfer frankly, there'll be a continuation.

- The president, who trails Democratic nominee Joe Biden in national opinion polls, has repeatedly cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, asserting without evidence that mail-in ballots would lead to fraud and a, quote, "rigged outcome." And Trump calling to, quote, "get rid of the ballots" and arguing, quote, "there won't be a transfer, there will be a continuation" rankled Republican leadership.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, quote, "There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792." Senator Mitt Romney tweeted, quote, "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power. Without that, there is Belarus." Senator Marco Rubio, quote, "As we have done for over two centuries, we will have a legitimate and fair election. It may take longer than usual to know the outcome, but it will be a valid one."

In 2016, trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls, Trump also raised questions about whether he would accept the results of the election. He went on to win the presidency, and yet still claimed without evidence that millions of illegal immigrants voted against him. Biden, speaking to reporters in Delaware Wednesday, said Trump's comments on the transition of power were, quote, "irrational."

JOE BIDEN: One concern I have is what he'll try to do to ruin this election. There is no-- no concern for mail-in ballots. And by the way, he sits up in Washington on the Resolute Desk, and he mails in his ballot to vote absentee in Florida.

- Trump also said at the White House Wednesday that he believes the election might be decided not at the ballot box, but at the highest court in the land.

DONALD TRUMP: This scam that the Democrats are pulling, it's a scam. This scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation.

- The president is pushing to replace the seat vacated by the death of liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg quickly, and says he will announce his pick on Saturday. A senate confirmation vote before the election would seal a 6 to 3 conservative majority on the court.