Former first lady Michelle Obama on Monday urged "all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party" to "do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power" and said that playing along with "groundless conspiracy theories" is putting our "health and security in danger."
"This isn't a game," Obama wrote in a lengthy Instagram post, which comes as President Donald Trump and his allies in the White House and Congress have continued to challenge the election results.
"Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently — the presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party. To pretend that it does, to play along with these groundless conspiracy theories — whether for personal or political gain — is to put our country’s health and security in danger," she wrote.
She did not specifically mention Republican lawmakers and pundits who've been encouraging Trump to challenge his loss to Joe Biden while making a wide array of unfounded election fraud allegations, but her reference to conspiracy theories made clear that's whom she was referring to.
Trump's failure to concede has blocked the formal transition process from beginning, which means Biden has not been able to get top-level security briefings and his transition team isn't able to coordinate with the government agencies he'll soon be tasked with running. Security experts say delaying the transition could endanger national security while top health officials, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said it's also a public health risk.
Obama said she understands from experience that it can be difficult to accept losing election results.
"This week, I’ve been reflecting a lot on where I was four years ago. Hilary Clinton had just been dealt a tough loss by a far closer margin than the one we’ve seen this year. I was hurt and disappointed — but the votes had been counted and Donald Trump had won. The American people had spoken. And one of the great responsibilities of the presidency is to listen when they do," she wrote.
She and her husband, then-President Barack Obama, quickly invited the Trumps to visit them at the White House.
"I have to be honest and say that none of this was easy for me. Donald Trump had spread racist lies about my husband that had put my family in danger. That wasn’t something I was ready to forgive," she said, referring to a baseless conspiracy theory Trump had aggressively promoted that contended that the president wasn't born in the United States.
"I knew that, for the sake of our country, I had to find the strength and maturity to put my anger aside," she said. "I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do — because our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego."
She added, "I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history."
The former president was a bit more direct in an interview with CBS that aired Sunday.
Asked about allegations of widespread voter fraud in the election, he said, "They appear to be motivated, in part, because the president doesn't like to lose, and never admits loss. I'm more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, are humoring him in this fashion. It is one more step in delegitimizing, not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally. And that's a dangerous path."