Washington: President Donald Trump refused Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, asserting that if he doesn't win, it will be because of fraudulent mail-in voting and not because more Americans voted against him.
"Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster -" Trump began when asked during a White House press briefing if he'd ensure a peaceful transition.
"I understand that, but people are rioting, do you commit to making sure that there's a peaceful transferral of power?" the reporter pressed, appearing to refer to incidents of violence that have broken out during some protests.
"Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very - we'll have a very peaceful, there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation," Trump said. "The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else."
The president seems to be referring to, as he has for months now, the massive uptick in people voting by mail this fall rather than in person amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Trump continues to claim, with no evidence, that Democrats are supporting widespread mail-in voting not for public health reasons but to corrupt or defraud the results.
Trump has previously been asked whether he'd accept the results of the election if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins. Asked by Fox News' Chris Wallace in July, Trump said, "I have to see. Look, you - I have to see. No, I'm not going to just say yes. I'm not going to say no, and I didn't last time either."
Refusing to ensure he'd support a peaceful transfer of power between administrations if he loses this year's election seems to escalate that threat amid partisan tensions.
In an October 2016 debate with then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that was moderated, in fact, by Wallace, Trump made similar assertions. He wouldn't say whether he'd accept the results of the election, which he claimed at the time was rigged against him. "I will look at it at the time," Trump said. "I will keep you in suspense." Even on the morning of the election, Trump wouldn't commit to conceding, saying, "I want to see what happens, you know, how it goes."
Earlier Wednesday, Trump also sought to sow doubt in election results, predicting that deciding the winner will ultimately go to the Supreme Court.
He said that is why it is so urgent that his nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg be seated before the election.
"I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it's very important that we have nine justices," Trump said. "It's better if you go before the election, because I think this, this scam that the Democrats are pulling, it's a scam, the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4/4 situation is not a good situation."
The "scam" he's referring to is the legal decision this year by many states to expand the use of mail ballots, also often referred to as absentee ballots, when people might be scared to vote in person. Five states, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Utah, already conducted their elections by mail, and officials in both parties have expanded the use of mail ballots this year.
Trump then said an election case challenging the mail-in ballots that goes before the Supreme Court should get a vote of "eight-nothing or nine-nothing."
"But just in case it would be more political than it should be, I think it's very important to have a ninth justice.
(Courtesy: The Washington Post)
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