During Sunday’s appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” outgoing White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough stopped just short of saying Donald Trump is a legitimate president, but admitted Trump was “freely elected,” Breitbart.com reported.
According to Breitbart:
He added that the Democrats that are boycotting Trump’s inauguration on Friday have “significant” concerns.
Specifically, McDonough suggested that Trump’s election was influenced by Russia. He also suggested Trump could allay those concerns by “reaching out” to Democrats who refused to attend the ceremony.
Breitbart posted a partial transcript of the segment:
Tapper: There are now at least eighteen House democrats who are boycotting the Trump inauguration. Does President Obama think that’s appropriate, or do they think, does he think they should follow his lead and attend for the sake of honoring the office and the peaceful transfer of power?
McDonough: Well, the president has made very clear since the election that we should do everything in our power in this transition period to make sure that the next president and his team are up and ready to go. In fact, on Tuesday night in a speech he called him the “freely elected” President of the United States. So that’s the charge that we have taken. By the same token these Democrats and others have pointed out that they’ve got a significant concerns. And we found some of those concerns — the intelligence shows that the Russians did intervene, and they did intervene with the purpose of helping one candidate, and hurting the other. So these are by no means, uh, trivial concerns. So my hope would be that the President-elect will reach out to somebody as consequential and somebody who is such a leader as John Lewis, who has done so many things over the course of his life, to try to work this out. And hopefully it’s not just reach out to him, but pursue some of the policies that Mr. Lewis has literally fought, bled, and gone to jail for over the course of his remarkable life. And that would be that kind of thing that would not only send a message to the American people that we’re prepared to work together, but would also sent a message to the Russians that we are united, their efforts to divide us, to weaken us, to advance their own interest at the expense of ours, are going to fail.
Tapper pressed McDonough on whether or not Obama views Trump as a legitimate president, but it seems the White House isn’t ready to go quite that far:
Tapper: Just to be clear though, President Obama thinks that President-elect Trump is legitimate.
McDonough: The President has made very clear that he believes that he is the “freely elected” president. He will be inaugurated on Friday, and he will come into office hopefully strengthened by the kind of transition that we’ve tried to run in this White House.
When pressed further, McDonough added: “The president’s not going to get into the middle of this right now.”
Here’s a short video, tweeted out by America’s least-trusted cable news outlet:
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