U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday again declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said at a news conference, responding to a question about whether he’d commit to a peaceful transfer of power. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
It is highly unusual that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in American democracy’s electoral process. But he also declined four years ago to commit to honouring the election results if his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, won.
His current Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, was asked about Trump’s comment after landing in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday night.
Trump has been pressing a months-long campaign against mail-in voting this November by tweeting and speaking out critically about the practice. More states are encouraging mail-in voting to keep voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The president, who uses mail-in voting himself, has tried to distinguish between states that automatically send mail ballots to all registered voters and those, like Florida, that send them only to voters who request a mail ballot.
Trump has baselessly claimed widespread mail voting will lead to massive fraud. The five states that routinely send mail ballots to all voters have seen no significant fraud.
Trump on Wednesday appeared to suggest that if states got “rid of” the unsolicited mailing of ballots there would be no concern about fraud or peaceful transfers of power.
“You’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer frankly,” Trump said. “There’ll be a continuation. 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.”
In a July interview, Trump similarly refused to commit to accepting the results.
“I have to see. Look … I have to see,” Trump told Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging July interview. “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also protested Trump’s remarks. “The peaceful transfer of power is essential to a functioning democracy,” ACLU national legal director David Cole said.
“This statement from the president of the United States should trouble every American,” he said.
Photo credit: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
News source: The Associated Press