Donald Trump’s repeated refusals this week to accept the presidential election result unless he wins competed for attention amid the noise of Amy Coney Barrett’s supreme court nomination, writes Richard Luscombe. But on NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd was keen not to let that story, nor the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 200,000 American lives, fall from prominence.
Todd pressed Roy Blunt, Republican senator for Missouri and chair of the congressional inauguration committee, on the president’s evidence-free statements that November’s election will be rigged and that mail-in ballots – trusted by dozens of states – were somehow fraudulent.
“I am concerned about this idea that somehow the election won’t be fair,” Blunt said, coming as close as he could to a rebuttal without criticizing Trump’s baseless comments.
“I think maybe the election will be complicated. The best place to cast a ballot is at the polling place on election day.”
Blunt also saw the likelihood of legal challenges from the Trump administration if he lost, a scenario given added exposure this week by the president’s push to confirm Barrett on the supreme court bench quickly.
But, he promised: “If the president is re-elected he’ll be sworn in on 20 January. If Vice President Biden is elected he’ll be sworn in on 20 January. At this point I’m chairing the inauguration, I look forward to seeing that happen.”
Todd also queried why no progress appeared to have been made in the Senate over a new Covid-19 stimulus package, in contrast to the speed Republicans were moving to advance Barrett’s nomination.
“It’s a huge mistake,” Blunt conceded. “To get back to school, to get back to work, to get back to better health we need a bill, we’re in very near agreement on all the Covid things that matter. What we’re not in agreement on is about a trillion dollars on other things.”
Cory Booker, Democratic senator from New Jersey who sits on the senate judiciary committee, said he would be pressing Barrett about the election outcome during the upcoming confirmation hearings.
“One of things I want to ask her is if she’ll recuse herself in terms of any election issues, because if she does not I fear that the court will be further delegitimized,” he said.
“The president has said he’s not going to honor the peaceful transition of power. That is a stunning statement and a betrayal of the oath to defend the constitution of the United States. It’s an anti-democratic thing to say.”