White House Chief of Staff Seeks to Clarify Trump's Peaceful Transition of Power Comments

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Friday sought to clarify President Donald Trump's recent comments about whether he will commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election.

"I think he commits to a peaceful transfer as long as it is a fair election," Meadows said Friday morning during an interview with CBS This Morning.

The president has frequently raised concerns, without evidence, about widespread voter fraud and has cast doubt on the dependability of mail-in voting, which Americans are expected to use more this year than ever before because of the continuing threats posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked Wednesday if he would agree to a peaceful transition of power if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the election, Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing, "We're going to have to see what happens." He cited a general concern over ballots and added, "There won't be a transfer, frankly; there'll be a continuation."

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he makes his way to board Marine One on September 24. On Friday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sought to clarify comments the president has recently made about whether he will commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Trump made similar comments to his supporters and the press over the summer. He told his supporters during a campaign rally last month that a "rigged election" was the only way he would lose, and he told Fox News in July that he would "have to see" what the voting results are before he accepts them.

Meadows discussed the "very troubling" findings, which the FBI announced earlier this week, about nine mail-in ballots cast for Trump by members of the military that were found discarded in Pennsylvania. He also brought up reports in several states of problematic ballots that were thrown out during the primary elections. Investigations into the problematic ballots have revealed problems ranging from election officials receiving them after the deadline to voter signatures not matching those kept on file.

"What we want to make sure is that every vote counts—but that only the vote from one voter to the ballot box is what gets counted, and nothing less, nothing more. That's what he's referring to; that's what we're committed to," Meadows said.

"Should we allow votes to come in and be counted a week after November 3? I don't believe so. That's what we're talking about. Let's make sure that the systems that we've had in place for decades—indeed centuries—are the same systems we have in place now."

Trump's Democratic rival during the 2016 election, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, warned Biden against quickly conceding the race during a conversation on Showtime's The Circus last month. As reasons for her advice, she cited expectations that the contest could be close and that a greater number of mail-in ballots could delay the full election tallies.

Meadows addressed Clinton's advice for Biden, saying she "still doesn't believe that she lost" the 2016 election. "Every candidate that runs believes that they're running the right election," he said. "I can tell you we're doing what it takes. We're out each and every day making our case to the American people. We believe he'll win on November 3, and, with a free and fair election, I believe he'll win."

Newsweek reached out to the White House and Trump's campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.