Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disputed the apparent results of the 2020 presidential election on Tuesday, saying the outcome was still unresolved and predicting his boss, President Donald Trump, would overcome Joe Biden's current lead of more than 4.6 million votes.
Asked whether there would be a smooth transition to a Biden administration, Pompeo responded with a smile, "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."
It's unclear if the top U.S. diplomat’s prepared line was a joke. But he stood firm behind Trump in casting doubt on the elections’ integrity and arguing the final result is still unknown, although his words will have no impact on that count.
"I'm very confident that we will count -- and we must count -- every legal vote. We must make sure that any vote that wasn't lawful ought not be counted," Pompeo said during the Tuesday press conference.
Election officials from both political parties, including in the handful of swing states where the race is closest, have publicly stated that voting went well and without serious irregularities. Trump's campaign is casting doubt on that with a slate of lawsuits alleging voter fraud, most of which have already been dismissed by federal judges.
Pompeo, one of Trump's most loyal aides, has defied norms and possibly even federal law with his distinctly political style as secretary. He addressed the Republican National Convention in August and spoke to voters in several swing states during the fall campaign season.
During the press briefing, he didn't answer a reporter's question about whether the U.S. "failed to conduct a fraudulent-free election," and later, he attacked a second reporter for asking what message Trump's refusal to concede sends to other countries.
"That's ridiculous, and you know it's ridiculous, and you asked it because it's ridiculous. ... You asked a question that is ridiculous," he said, interrupting her.
Heads of government from allied countries began calling Biden this week, starting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday and several others on Tuesday -- Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, Emmanuel Macron of France, Angela Merkel of Germany and Micheál Martin of Ireland.
Pompeo declined to comment on those calls or say what guidance the State Department has provided its diplomats overseas about how to discuss the U.S. elections or refer to Biden.
But he said he'd gotten his own calls from foreign leaders, who "are watching our election. They understand that we have a legal process. They understand that this takes time."