With just over a month to go until Election Day, President Donald Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. Speaking at a White House press conference, Trump also said he could see the result ending up in the Supreme Court, once again citing concerns over mail-in fraud.
Many states are encouraging citizens to utilize mail-in voting as much as possible in the upcoming election, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, Trump has repeatedly discredited this method of voting, claiming that it is disproportionately susceptible to voter fraud and last month the president even admitted to blocking funding to the United States Postal Service in order to hinder postal voting.
The Department of Homeland Security has also announced that Russia is circulating unfounded claims that mail-in voting will result in mass voter fraud.
During last Wednesday’s press conference, Trump was asked by a reporter if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power ‘win, lose or draw’ to Biden. Trump refused to give a straight answer, sparking discussion over the country about what would happen if he were to refuse to give up power having lost the election.
“Well, we’ll have to see what happens, you know that,” the president said. “I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster.”
As every losing presidential candidate in modern times has conceded, a refusal to accept the result of the election by Trump would send the country into unknown waters and nobody can be quite sure how events would unfold.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden has previously stated that he believes the military would intervene in such a scenario and be deployed to remove Trump from the White House.
Trump also failed to commit to acceptance of the election results prior to his battle with Hilary Clinton in 2016, something the then-Democratic candidate described as ‘an attack on democracy.’ Trump, of course, won the election but the 74-year-old still questioned the popular vote, which he lost by three million.
“Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” tweeted Republican senator Mitt Romney, who has played a smaller role in the party during Trump’s time as president.
“Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”
Also on Wednesday, President Trump justified his decision to seek the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice before the upcoming election, reasoning that he is expecting the result of the vote to end up in court.
“I think this [the election] will end up in the Supreme Court, and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices,” he said.
“I think it’s better if you go before the election, because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling, it’s a scam, the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court.”
Trump has also announced that he is to name a female nominee for the court this upcoming weekend to replace Justice Ruth Bade Ginsburg, who died at the age of 87 last week. If confirmed by the Senate, Trump’s nominee will secure a 6-3 Republican majority in the highest court in the country for the foreseeable future at least.
The closest elections in modern US history have still seen the losing candidate concede as expected, including in 1960 when Richard Nixon was just pipped by John F Kennedy and in 2000 when Al Gore was narrowly defeated by George W Bush in Florida.
“So we have to be very careful with the ballots. The ballots, that’s a whole big scam. They found, I understand, eight ballots in a wastepaper basket in some location they found it,” the president told reporters during the press conference.
“It was reported in one of the newspapers that they found a lot of ballots in a river. They throw them out if they have the name Trump on it, I guess. But they had ballots,” he added.
“They still found them in a river, whether they had a name on it or not. But the other ones had the Trump name on it and they were thrown into a wastepaper basket. We want to make sure the election is honest and I’m not sure that it can be,” he continued, referring to several ballots that were recently found discarded in Pennsylvania.
“I don’t know that it can be with this whole situation. Unsolicited ballots, they’re unsolicited. Millions being sent to everybody. And we’ll see. But if you remember, Hillary Clinton just a week ago or so told Joe Biden, “Do not accept the results of the election under any circumstances.” But you don’t ask her that question. You only ask me the question,” the president said.