It’s a joke … although perhaps not in the best of taste. Mike Pompeo told the State Department press corps that there will be a successful transition no matter who wins, but first we have to “get it right” in counting “all of the votes.” When the dust settles from that, the US will be perfectly capable of conducting a smooth transition to the next administration, Pompeo argued.
In the immortal words of Matthew McConaughey in Dazed & Confused, it’d be a lot cooler if it was “a second Trump administration,” Pompeo implicitly suggested. Kidding! He kids, he kids…
— The Hill (@thehill) November 10, 2020
It’s not clear why The Hill tagged this as #BREAKING. Their write-up suggests that this was a joke, and the embedded tweet they used from a BBC correspondent made it pretty clear too:
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo replied with a smile.
“We’re ready,” Pompeo continued. “The world is watching what’s taking place. We’re gonna count all the votes. When the process is complete, there’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 … and successful with a president who’s in office on Jan. 20, a minute after noon, will also be successful.”
Pompeo has a pretty good point about transitions and the sudden emphasis on the existential need for the entire ten weeks of it. The media didn’t seem all that concerned with it four years ago, when Hillary Clinton began a four-year arc of claiming that she got cheated out of her birthright, nor of three years of Russiagate dominating the news. As we discovered over the last year or so, the Obama administration spent the transition time doing a Logan Act probe of, and setting a perjury trap for, Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser. Nor did it turn out to be much of a problem twenty years ago, when the same media seemed unconcerned over Al Gore’s legal challenges to the election outcome in Florida.
Still, that’s pretty much where the comparison ends. Trump didn’t lose in one state where the gap was measured in the hundreds and which could have turned the Electoral College; he lost in several states by margins of tens of thousands, roughly the same way he won in 2016. To get to a “second Trump administration,” his boss will have to flip more than one of those states in circumstances which makes each one of them a million-to-one long shot to succeed. Jokes about a second Trump term seem overly optimistic at best, and a demonstration of denial at worst.
It’s good to point out that we have a legal process for contesting the election that still allows for successful transitions to a succeeding administration. Maybe Pompeo can just stick to that point in the future, and save the jokes for his post-State career.