US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has refused to acknowledge Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, claiming instead there will be “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration”.
A Trump loyalist, Mr Pompeo told a news conference at the State Department on Tuesday (local time) that once every “legal” vote in last week’s presidential election was counted, Mr Trump would be re-elected.
“The world is watching what’s taking place,” he said.
“We’re gonna count all the votes. When the process is completed, they’ll be electors selected. There’s a process, the Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.
“The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today and successful with a president who’s in office on January 20 a minute after noon, will also be successful.”
Mr Biden, a former vice-president, chuckled when asked about Mr Pompeo’s statement.
“I think the whole Republican Party has been put in a position – with a few notable exceptions – of being mildly intimidated by the sitting president but there’s only one president at a time,” he said.
In a speech in Delaware, Mr Biden said his team was pushing ahead with forming a new administration to take over on US Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, no matter what.
“We’re going to be going, moving along, in a consistent manner, putting together our administration, the White House, and reviewing who we’re going to pick for Cabinet positions, and nothing’s going to stop that,” he said.
He said it was an “embarrassment” that Mr Trump had not yet conceded the election.
Mr Biden secured the more than 270 votes in the Electoral College he needs to take the presidency by winning Pennsylvania on Saturday after four tense days of counting, which was delayed by a surge in mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump and many of his allies have repeatedly made baseless claims that fraud has marred the election results.
Attorney-General William Barr and Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have signalled they back Mr Trump’s right to launch a legal challenge to the result in several battleground states, including Pennsylvania.
On Monday, Mr Barr ordered federal prosecutors to investigate allegations of voter irregularities – a move that prompted the resignation of the US Justice Department’s senior election crimes prosecutor.
On Tuesday, the Trump campaign said it would file a lawsuit in Michigan requesting the results of the election in the state not be certified until it can be verified votes were cast lawfully.
“We want to make sure no vote tally includes fraudulently or unlawfully cast ballots,” Trump campaign attorney Matt Morgan said.
Judges already have tossed out lawsuits in Michigan and Georgia and legal experts have said Mr Trump’s litigation has little chance of changing the outcome of the election.
On Tuesday, senior Biden adviser Bob Bauer dismissed the litigation as “theatrics, not really lawsuits”.
World leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have already been calling to congratulate Mr Biden and pledging to work with him.
Mr Johnson, a conservative like Mr Trump whose blustery style is often likened to that of the President, said he spoke to Mr Biden on Tuesday by phone.
“I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and working with him on our shared priorities – from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy and building back better from the pandemic,” he tweeted.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have also congratulated Mr Biden. It is not yet known if Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has spoken to the incoming president.
Mr Trump has made no public appearances since Saturday, although he has been active on Twitter, where he continues to insist the counting of votes was fraudulent in some states.
He is expected to visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday.