NASHVILLE — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said Friday that President Donald Trump's administration should aid President-elect Joe Biden in his transition, saying the Democrat has a “very good chance” of becoming the next president.
“If there is any chance whatsoever that Joe Biden will be the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump Administration should provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources, and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on day one," the Republican from Tennessee said in a statement. “That especially should be true, for example, on vaccine distribution.”
In an interview later Friday, Alexander said his comments were spurred by a “very encouraging” briefing on the COVID-19 vaccine a day earlier.
"I don’t think we want to lose a day or an hour of getting those (vaccines) to people who need help, which is one reason there should be a transition. Transition should have already started," Alexander, who chairs the Senate health committee, told The Associated Press.
He also said he doesn't want adversaries worldwide to think they can take advantage of any confusion during the handover.
Alexander, who is retiring, said recounts and resolving disputes after a close election are not unprecedented and should reassure Americans that the results are valid.
He also drew upon the example of fellow Tennessean Al Gore, who 37 days after the 2000 election, "made the best speech of his life accepting the result" that George W. Bush would become president.
“The prompt and orderly transfer or reaffirmation of immense power after a presidential election is the most enduring symbol of our democracy,” Alexander said.
Alexander criticized an effort by Trump to try to subvert the election results. Trump has summoned state legislators to the White House as part of a longshot bid to overturn Biden’s victory. Trump is also calling local election officials who are trying to rescind their certification votes in Michigan, suggesting in a legal challenge that Pennsylvania set aside the popular vote there and pressuring county officials in Arizona to delay certifying vote tallies.
“The wrong way to do it is to meddle with state legislators and try to persuade them to send a slate of electors that’s different than the slate of electors voted on by the people of that state,” Alexander said.
Prominent Tennessee Republicans who have left office have weighed in similarly on transition concerns, including former Gov. Bill Haslam, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Sen. Bob Corker, who had notable public feuds with Trump while in office.
“While the president has the right to legitimate legal challenges, responsible citizens cannot let the reckless actions by him and his legal team stand," Corker said Friday on Twitter. "Republicans have an obligation when the subject is of such importance to challenge demagoguery and patently false statements.”
Those in office or taking office haven't called for Trump to help in the transition or even recognizing the likelihood of a Biden presidency, including Gov. Bill Lee, Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Sen.-elect Bill Hagerty, Alexander's replacement.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.
Alexander compared his approach on voter fraud claims to taking the word of career FDA scientists about a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I don’t know if there has been voter fraud, but I’ll take the word of the state officials who are in charge of it and of the federal and state courts who review any claims, and if they say it’s a valid election, I’ll accept that result,” Alexander said.
Jonathan Mattise, The Associated Press