Updated: Nov. 13, 3:44 p.m.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is insisting that the U.S. election has not been decided. He also predicted that Trump will prevail, backing President Donald Trump's reluctance to begin the transition to President-elect Joe Biden's administration.
"There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration," Pompeo said during a briefing Tuesday. "All right? We're ready."
The secretary was replying to a Fox News reporter's question about whether the State Department is preparing to work with the Biden transition team – and whether a delay could raise a potential national security risk or hinder a smooth transfer of power. Pompeo did not respond directly to that question, implying instead that a transition won't be needed.
"The world is watching what's taking place. We're going to count all the votes," Pompeo said, a seeming reference to Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
"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 a president who's in office on Jan. 20, a minute after noon, will also be successful."
Biden has been declared to have captured enough electoral votes to win the presidency, with significant leads in key states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan. But Trump is trying to challenge the results with lawsuits, most of which have failed.
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When asked about the allegations of election fraud, Pompeo noted the prolonged uncertainty and legal battle over the 2000 election, stating that it didn't prevent a successful transition.
"I'm very confident that we will count, and we must count, every legal vote," he said. "We must make sure that any vote that wasn't lawful ought not be counted. That dilutes your vote, if it's done improperly. Got to get that right. When we get it right, we'll get it right."
"We're in good shape," the secretary said.
Pompeo smiled during his initial remarks about the looming transition of power, but his comments prompted more questions.
"What kind of guidance are you giving to American diplomats on how to characterize the results of the presidential election?" a Reuters reporter asked Pompeo. She added, "And also, this department frequently sends out statements encouraging free and fair elections abroad — and for the losers of those elections to accept the results. Doesn't President Trump's refusal to concede discredit those efforts?"
"That's ridiculous," Pompeo told her. "And you know it's ridiculous. And you asked it, because it's ridiculous."
Pompeo said, "This department cares deeply to make sure that elections around the world are safe and secure and free and fair, and my officers risk their lives to ensure that that happens."
The secretary of state concluded his reply, and the briefing, by saying:
"We want the law to be imposed in a way that reflects the reality of what took place. And that's what I think we're engaged in here in the United States, and that's what we work on every place all across the world."
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