Ret. General David Petraeus urged President Donald Trump on Veterans Day not to postpone his election complaints and to allow transition planning to begin in the meantime.
“If you’re really interested in the country, at least exhaust these legal challenges as soon as possible, ideally by early next week,” said Petraeus in CNBC’s Squawk Box. “Then you can go on with it.”
While NBC News and other media outlets have predicted Democrat Joe Biden as last week’s presidential contest winner, Trump has refused to admit. His campaign has sparked a number of lawsuits related to the voting process or vote counting. However, there is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud, though Trump insists that his loss was due to “illegal votes” for no reason.
Biden, Vice-President under former President Barack Obama, has nonetheless launched his transition team by announcing various advisory groups and giving presidential-style speeches on healthcare and the coronavirus pandemic in the past few days. On Tuesday, Biden called Trump’s refusal to admit “frankly an embarrassment”.
Petraeus, who previously served as director of the CIA under Obama, believes the Trump administration should at least allow important aspects of the transition to a new president to coincide with legal proceedings.
“My hope would of course be that all legal challenges will be resolved very quickly,” he said. “I don’t see why in the meantime you actually still can’t make a transition in terms of the time-consuming tasks,” added Petraeus, such as background checks for people who need high-level security reviews.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an email to CNBC that the Trump administration “follows all legal requirements related to a change of power”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday predicted a smooth transition to Trump’s second term. This week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several other Republicans rallied behind Trump’s right to fight the election results in court.
In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh also defended the president’s legal maneuvers. “Every American deserves to be confident that our elections are free, fair, safe, and secure. The President owes this to everyone who voted for him, including those who voted for Joe Biden,” Murtaugh said in an email. “This is not just about this choice, but about every choice in the future.”
“I’m impartial. I don’t prefer any party, but I prefer the country,” said Petraeus, chairman of the KKR Global Institute. “I think we should give the new team the smoothest possible transition, which is absolutely possible for the good of the country.”
The inauguration day is scheduled for January 20th.
Petraeus, a retired four-star army general who oversaw years of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, said he learned lessons from transitioning to new roles from a mentor, Ret. General Jack Keane.
“He used to say to battalion and brigade commanders, ‘If you really love your unit, if you really care about it, you will suppress your ego, you will bring your successor into the organization before you even leave, before you move Command, “he said.
Petraeus resigned as CIA chief in 2012, under fire for sharing classified information with his biographer with whom he was having an extramarital affair. He later pleaded guilty to the mistreatment of classified information and was fined and placed on probation.