National Security Adviser Says ‘Of Course’ Trump Will Transfer Power If He Loses Election

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. President Donald Trump waves goodbye to employees as he departs the White House September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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October 22, 2020 8:58 a.m.

National security adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday that “of course” President Donald Trump will accept the results of a presidential election which is now less than two weeks away, even though Trump has signaled otherwise in recent months.

“If he loses the election, I’m certain the president will transfer power over,” O’Brien told Politico in an interview when asked about Trump’s refusal during a White House briefing with reporters last month to commit to a peaceful White House exit in the event of an electoral defeat. 

He added as a caveat that it was critical to ensure there was “no fraud in the election” and that it  was “free and fair” — even as the President has made efforts in court in recent months to suppress the expansion of mail-in voting which has become a critical way for voters to cast their ballots more safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

O’Brien appeared less confident about President Trump’s chances of winning the election, suggesting when asked if he predicted a Trump victory that he “hopes” for a win.

“What I believe is he should win,” O’Brien said.

“We’re a democracy, we’ll have to see what happens,” he added, suggesting that he’s witnessed the excitement at rallies, Trump’s long preferred campaign nerve center.

“I’ve watched the rallies and people are pretty excited, but I’m not commenting from a political standpoint, but I think he has a lot of support out there and we’re certainly hoping for the best.”

O’Brien whose role in government is not supposed to be muddled up in politics, has come under fire for traveling to battleground states including, New Hampshire, Iowa and Wisconsin.

He joins a growing list of Trump administration officials who have muddied the lines between government work and political activity after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared in a video clip that aired during the Republican National Convention in August and later made a fairly blatant campaign pitch to state lawmakers in a speech on China policy last month when he said that the Trump administration was “fighting to protect our wallets, hearts, minds, and our freedoms.”

Last month, O’Brien spoke on Trump’s foreign policy in remarks that took a political turn at Drake University in Iowa — a key state for Trump to win on Nov. 3. “The world is more peaceful and prosperous, we believe, because of the president’s policies,” he said, adding: “there’s more to come in a second Trump term.”

The comments toed the line of federal law — as the Hatch Act strictly limits government workers from engaging in political activity — but O’Brien contended on Wednesday that his trips outside Washington were justified because people beyond the nation’s capital “deserve to hear about the president’s national security policies and our foreign policy successes just as much as the Washington think tank class.”

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