US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said “there will be a smooth transition to our second Trump administration” – despite the president having lost the election to Joe Biden.
The remarks reflected the existing administration’s ongoing refusal to accept the result of the 3 November vote.
The Electoral College is due to formally confirm Mr Biden‘s victory on 14 December, with the president-elect being sworn into office in late January.
But Mr Pompeo indicated the White House was continuing its efforts to block co-operation with the Democrat’s team.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” he said.
Breaking into a smile, he continued: “Right. We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place.
“We’re going to 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.”
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However, he went on to seemingly acknowledge the possibility of the next US leader not being Donald Trump.
“The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today and successful with the president who is in office on January 20th, a minute after noon, is also successful,” he said.
He then appeared to indirectly admit that Mr Trump had lost, saying: “I went through a transition… I’ve been on the other side of this.”
Mr Pompeo has been a member of the president’s team since the transition from the Obama presidency in 2017, following Mr Trump’s election win.
Asked if he believed there had been widespread voter fraud or whether Mr Biden’s significant leads in key states including Pennsylvania and Michigan were going to be overturned, Mr Pompeo declined to answer the question directly.
Few Republicans have acknowledged the victory and some, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, have rallied behind efforts to fight the election results.
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Attorney general William Barr authorised the Justice Department to investigate “substantial” allegations of voter irregularities and election fraud on Monday, though no widespread instances of that type of trouble exist.
In a memo to US lawyers, obtained by The Associated Press, Mr Barr wrote that investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual state”.
Election officials from both political parties have publicly stated that voting went well. International observers also confirmed there were no serious irregularities.
It has been reported that Trump aides and White House officials are privately aware that his legal challenges to the election result have little chance of success and that the Republican has lost to Mr Biden, but do not want to publicly accept the defeat before the president has done so.