Pompeo Promises ‘Smooth Transition’
" . . . to a second Trump Administration." Get it?
So, this happened:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo battled reporters over President Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the presidential election, predicting “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” despite the fact that former Vice President Joe Biden is the projected winner of the race.
The comment from Pompeo, a top ally of the president, came during a combative news conference at the State Department on Tuesday when the Cabinet member was asked whether the agency is prepared to engage with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo replied with a smile.
Now, it was clearly intended to be jocular. Pompeo laughed at his own “joke.”
And his follow-on is actually much more reassuring than some of the hysterical takes I’m seeing on Twitter:
“We’re ready,” Pompeo continued. “The world is watching what’s taking place. We’re gonna 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 … and successful with a president who’s in office on Jan. 20, a minute after noon, will also be successful.”
That said, this is a really poor time for joking. Biden has clearly and obviously won the election—winning the close states by a larger margin than Trump won them by in 2016—and the nation is on edge at the fact that the President won’t concede that he lost.
He also didn’t help himself by sneering at a woman reporter’s follow-up about the whole stance being dangerous. It’s not “ridiculous” to ask the obvious question.
Still, even though I’m not at all fan of Pompeo’s tenure as Secretary, he’s in an incredibly thankless position. He serves at the pleasure of a President who is not following the basic norms of American democracy. It may well be that, to prevent even further chaos in our foreign policy process during the transition, he has to bite his tongue rather than state the obvious. But, if that’s his judgment, then the right thing to do here was deflect rather than make bad jokes and then lash out at journalists for having the temerity to do their jobs.