Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that there will be an "orderly transfer" between administrations Jan. 20, although he did not mention President-elect Joe Biden or President Donald Trump, who is refusing to concede, by name.
McConnell, R-Ky., has not yet publicly recognized Biden's victory, but his comments Tuesday following a Senate Republican luncheon signaled he is prepared for a Biden presidency.
Asked about the General Services Administration's refusal to ascertain Biden's victory, which triggers important components of the transition, McConnell did not push for the Trump administration to begin that process but said "we're going to have an orderly transfer from this administration to the next one."
"What we all say about it is frankly irrelevant," he said, adding, "All of it will happen right on time, and we will swear in the next administration on January 20th."
Earlier, McConnell described the next steps in the electoral process, pointing to the upcoming certification of results in key swing states.
"Once those certifications occur, if they occur based upon litigation being tried in various places, those will be final," he said. "The Electoral College will meet in December. And the inauguration will be on January 20th."
McConnell added that the president and his legal team are within their rights to present "whatever evidence" they may have to contest the results.
Even though he is losing by more than 10,000 votes in at least three swing states he would need to flip in order to win the election — an amount far outside the total overturned in any recount for at least 50 years — the president is hoping that long-shot legal challenges will revive his chances. So far, his campaign's legal effort has fallen short in federal court, and ongoing efforts appear unlikely to alter the results, let alone swing a state.
Only a handful of Republican lawmakers have acknowledged Biden's projected victory.
During his news conference, McConnell reiterated comments he made Monday — that the Trump administration should not significantly draw down the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan or Iraq.
"I think it's extremely important here in the next couple of months not to have any earth-shaking changes with regards to defense and foreign policy," McConnell said. "I think a precipitous drawdown in Afghanistan or Iraq would be a mistake. I so said publicly yesterday and I hope that's precisely where these discussions end up."
Right around the time McConnell was speaking, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced the U.S. will cut forces in Afghanistan and Iraq by mid-January, leaving 2,500 troops in each country.