Trump won’t com­mit to peace­ful trans­fer of power if he loses

El Dorado News-Times - - Morning Brew - By Aamer Madhani and Kevin Frek­ing

WASH­ING­TON — 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.”

Trump has been press­ing a month­s­long 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 mailin 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, and he made sim­i­lar com­ments ahead of the 2016 elec­tion.

“I have to see. Look ... I have to see,” Trump told Chris Wal­lace dur­ing a wide-rang­ing July in­ter­view on “Fox News Sun­day.” “No, I’m not go­ing to just say yes. I’m not go­ing to say no, and I didn’t last time ei­ther.”

The Bi­den cam­paign re­sponded Wed­nes­day, as it did af­ter Trump’s July com­ments: “The Amer­i­can peo­ple will de­cide this elec­tion. And the United States gov­ern­ment is per­fectly ca­pa­ble of es­cort­ing tres­passers out of the White House.”

It is highly un­usual that a sit­ting pres­i­dent would ex­press less than com­plete con­fi­dence in the Amer­i­can democ­racy’s elec­toral process. But Trump four years ago, when in the clos­ing stages of his race against Hil­lary Clin­ton, also de­clined to com­mit to hon­or­ing the elec­tion re­sults if the Demo­crat won.

When asked dur­ing an Oc­to­ber 2016 de­bate about whether he would abide by the vot­ers’ will, Trump re­sponded that he would “keep you in sus­pense.”

It’s un­likely that any chaos in states with uni­ver­sal mail-in vot­ing will cause the elec­tion re­sult to be in­ac­cu­rately tab­u­lated, as Trump has sug­gested.

The five states that al­ready have such bal­lot­ing have had time to ramp up their sys­tems, while four states newly adopt­ing it — Cal­i­for­nia, New Jer­sey, Nevada and Ver­mont — have not. Wash­ing­ton, D.C., is also newly adopt­ing it.

Of those nine states, only Nevada is a bat­tle­ground, worth six elec­toral votes and likely to be piv­otal only in a na­tional pres­i­den­tial dead­lock.

Cal­i­for­nia, New Jer­sey, Ver­mont and D.C. are over­whelm­ingly Demo­cratic and likely to be won by that party’s nom­i­nee, former Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in the James Brady Press Brief­ing Room of the White House on Wed­nes­day in Wash­ing­ton.

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