Sen. Tom Cotton was unfazed by President Donald Trump’s refusal to a commit to a peaceful transfer of power should Joe Biden win the election and supported the president’s decision not to accept the results unless the winner is clear.
“We’ve been transferring the office of the presidency from one person to the next since 1796,” Cotton (R-Ark.) said Sunday to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.“ “I’m confident it’s going to happen again in 2025 after President Trump finishes his second term.”
Trump shook Washington last week when he declined multiple times to commit to a peaceful transition, opting instead to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process. He railed against the accommodations states have implemented to allow distanced voting amid the coronavirus pandemic and alleged unsubstantiated plots of vast voter fraud.
Cotton, a staunch Trump ally, defended Trump on Sunday by claiming Democrats were projecting in their assessment of the president’s intentions. He said Trump would accept the results if the courts settle a contested election or if the results are clear on election night.
“What the president was saying is that he is not going to concede in advance, especially when you have so many states changing the rules at the very last minute for mail-in balloting,” Cotton said.
Trump has repeatedly cast aspersions on mail-in balloting as a gateway for voter fraud, despite several states having safely used the practice for years. Voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the United States.
“The premise of the question you just played me is the president’s going to lose,” Cotton told Tapper. “I don’t think the president is going to lose. I think the president is going to win.”
Speaking shortly after Cotton, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) condemned the president’s comments as dangerous and called out his Republican colleagues for failing to speak out about them.
The centrist Democrat told Tapper that members of the Senate should be “absolutely horrified at even the thought” of Trump going against the will of the people.
“What the president is saying is that there could be basically upheaval on election night or the morning after the election when we usually have had a gratification of knowing who was going to be that winner. That might not happen because of Covid-19,” Manchin said. “Once he sows the seeds of distrust, then we’ve got a problem.”