Ex-Defense Sec and GOP Senator William Cohen Says Pompeo's Transition Comments 'More Akin to a Dictatorship'

Republican Party grandee William Cohen has denounced as undemocratic the comment by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that there would be "a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

The U.S.'s top diplomat was asked during a news conference at the State Department on Tuesday about Trump's refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden whom major news outlets have called the winner.

Trump and his campaign have made accusations of electoral fraud without offering proof.

When asked whether his agency would engage with Biden's transition team, Pompeo said there "will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

Cohen, who was a GOP senator for Maine between 1979 and 1997 and served as defense secretary under former Democratic President Bill Clinton, reacted strongly when played the Pompeo clip on CNN.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department in Washington DC on November 10, 2020. He has sparked controversy by saying in the briefing there would be a "smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” Jacquelyn Martin/Getty Images

He told anchor Don Lemon: "My reaction is the way in which they are conducting themselves is more akin to a dictatorship than a democracy."

"I think the State Department has been politicized just like the DOD, has tried to be politicized, and what we've done to undermine the intelligence community and other agencies," he said.

"I think it's consistent with what has been taking place for four years now," he added.

Top Democrats have also criticized Pompeo's remarks, such as outgoing chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) who said in a statement that the Secretary of State was playing "along with baseless and dangerous attacks on the legitimacy of last week's election."

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted: "This isn't just delusional—it's dangerous. The peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of our democracy." New York Senator Chuck Schumer told reporters: "Look at reality. Secretary Pompeo, Joe Biden has won. He's won the election. Now move on."

Meanwhile, Trump's former National Security Advisor, John Bolton told CNN that it was "delusional" for Pompeo to make the comment, adding, "I must say I think he's eviscerated his credibility internationally."

However, the former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, a frequent critic of Trump, believed that Pompeo's comment was simply a tactic. In sharing a tweet Trump wrote praising Pompeo, McFaul wrote, addressing Trump: "He is completely playing you & you don't even know it. Same with Barr. Or maybe you are just pretending not to know it?

"If Pompeo, Barr, Cruz, Graham, et al thought that you REALLY had a chance, they would expressing much more outrage about a stolen election. But they aren't." Newsweek has contacted the State Department for comment.