Senate Republicans were “left dumbfounded” by President Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that there might not be a peaceful transition of power after the November election, The Hill reported on Friday.
The Republican Party had a uniquely successful week, swiftly unifying ahead of the upcoming battle to nominate Trump’s replacement for late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
But Trump, as one Republican senator put it, found a way to make another unnecessary unforced error.
“The president figured out how to take an overwhelmingly good week and change the subject? Shocking. I don’t know what to say,” the lawmaker said, noting that there is a strong possibility that the commander-in-chief does not even realize what his comments suggested.
“There’s a chance he doesn’t understand peaceful as a concept. There’s a chance he thinks that means he’s going to feel good about it if he’s leaving. Who knows what he’s thinking?”
Asked to comment on the situation, a second Republican senator used his hand to mimic a gun and pointed it to his foot.
“It happens so regularly,” they said.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Trump was explicitly asked to commit to an orderly transfer of power in the event that Democrat Joe Biden wins in November.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” he responded, proceeding to complain about mail-in voting.
The remarks sent shockwaves throughout Washington, with Republicans scrambling to reassure the public that longstanding norms and protocols will be followed no matter who wins the upcoming election.
According to The Hill, the Republican “anger and irritation” with the president was high because several lawmakers are facing tough re-election battles, and are looking to avoid controversy to defend their seats.
Nominating an additional justice to the Supreme Court is reportedly seen by many as a major step toward maintaining the majority in the upper chamber.
Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana told the publication that Trump should stay on message and avoid creating “fodder for other conversations.”
Braun suggested that Trump’s comments about refusing to concede the election were not helpful, arguing that the GOP should try to focus on contrasting their economic policies with the Democratic Party platform.
In a strongly-worded statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “there will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”
A slew of prominent Republicans issued similar statements, reaffirming their commitment to a peaceful transfer of power.