Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper | Worries grow about rudderless post-election Pentagon | Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up | Pelosi says Esper firing shows Trump intent on sowing ‘chaos’ Top US official for Syria and ISIS to retire this month Trump administration readies new sanctions against Iran: report MORE maintained Tuesday evening that there’s “an awful lot of work to do” for the Trump administration while declining to outright acknowledge Joe BidenJoe BidenPence to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday Biden transition team to mull legal action over agency’s transition delays: reports Manchin shoots down chance that Senate Democrats nix filibuster, expand court MORE‘s victory in the presidential race.
Pompeo was pressed during an interview on Fox News about his remark earlier Tuesday vowing “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Pompeo if his comment was intended to be serious.
“We’ll have a smooth transition and we’ll see what the people ultimately decided when all the votes have been cast,” Pompeo responded, while declining to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect. “We have a process, Bret. The Constitution lays out how electors vote, it’s a very detailed process.”
“I am very confident that we will have a good transition, that we will make sure that whoever is in office on noon on Jan. 20 has all the tools readily available so that we don’t skip a beat with the capacity to keep America safe,” he added.
The secretary of State was asked about the growing list of world leaders who have reached out to Biden to congratulate him after last week’s election. Multiple news outlets, including Fox, projected Biden as the winner of the race on Saturday, though President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday Biden transition team to mull legal action over agency’s transition delays: reports Trump campaign lawyers worry about pushing lawsuits that could undermine election: report MORE has refused to concede and has launched legal challenges in multiple states.
“We’re reminding everyone that all the votes haven’t been counted. We need to make sure the legal process is fully complied with and then America will do what it does best. We’ll have a leader in the White House, noon on Jan. 20, and we’ll continue to execute American foreign policy,” Pompeo said.
“That’s what we’re focused on, that’s what I have my team focused on. There’s still a lot going on in the world, we’re pretty focused here in America on our own election. A lot’s still going on in the world and we’re focused on making sure we keep Americans safe during this time period,” Pompeo added.
Asked if it was “appropriate” for global leaders to be speaking to Biden if the secretary of State did not think the election was over, Pompeo responded, “If they’re just saying hi, I suppose that’s not too terribly difficult. But make no mistake about it — we have one president, one secretary of State, one national security team at a time.”
The comments come as Pompeo faces blowback for remarks he made to reporters earlier on Tuesday, when he said there “will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration” despite Trump’s projected defeat in the presidential race.
At the time, Pompeo also swiped at a question he received about whether he has advised diplomats to refer to Biden as “president-elect.” He was also asked during the news conference whether the president’s refusal to accept the election results undermines calls made by the State Department pushing for fair elections worldwide.
“That’s ridiculous, and you know it’s ridiculous, and you asked it because it’s ridiculous,” he said then. ”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. They work diligently on that.”
“We often encounter situations where it’s not clear about a particular election. We work to uncover facts, we work to do discovery, to learn whether in fact the outcome, the decision that was made reflected the will of the people. That’s our responsibility,” he continued.
“The United States has an election system that is laid out deeply in our Constitution, and we’re going to make sure that we get that right,” he also said before ending the event. “You want every vote to be counted. You want to run the process. We want the lot 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.”
Biden was projected winner of the election on Saturday after NBC, CNN, ABC and The Associated Press called the race for his campaign. Trump has refused to accept the results, with him and his campaign alleging unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud, and vowing legal challenges immediately after the race was called.