Trump Refuses to Commit to a Peaceful Transfer of Power

September 24, 2020by Eli Stokols and Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times (TNS)
White House adviser on coronavirus Scott Atlas, right, follows President Donald Trump to the podium during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump refused Wednesday to commit to giving up power should he lose the November race, adding to concerns that a contested election could lead to a constitutional crisis and a unique challenge to the nation’s democracy.

Trailing the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, in national and swing-state polls six weeks before Election Day, Trump again presented invented claims of voter fraud as a pretext for his campaign’s all but certain legal challenges and, for the first time, his possible refusal to vacate the Oval Office should he lose.

When a reporter noted the already combustible American landscape and asked Trump whether he would “commit here today for a peaceful transfer of all power after the election,” the president declined to do so.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” he said. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

“We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” he added, suggesting that he would view only an election that he wins as legitimate.

Biden offered sarcasm but did not evince deep concern when he was asked about Trump’s statement.

“What country are we in?” he said in Wilmington, Del., after a day of campaigning. “Look, he says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say.”

Andrew Bates, a campaign spokesman, cited Biden’s statement on July 19. “The American people will decide this election,” he said at the time. “And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”

Trump’s declaration that “there won’t be a transfer” alarmed election experts, even those inured to his penchant for falsehoods and controversy.

“In case anyone is unclear on the concept, in the United States of America, we do not ‘get rid of’ ballots. We count them,” said Ellen L. Weintraub, a commissioner on the Federal Elections Commission. “Counting the ballots — all the ballots — is the way we determine who leads our country after our elections. The only way.”

Republicans were largely silent. But Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee and a sometimes critic of Trump, condemned his refusal to commit to leaving office if he loses.

“Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” Romney tweeted. “Any suggestion that a president might not respect this constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”

The president’s warnings of lawsuits and delegitimizing of the voting process has added uncertainty to a country already convulsed by a pandemic, recession, racial strife and climate disasters.

“There’s an economic angle here, too,” Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan, tweeted. “The legitimacy and stability of democratic institutions and the rule of law are critical to investment and to our long run economic health.”

The president’s comments came hours after he suggested that he would push forward with filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court because it might be called upon to resolve a disputed election.

Trump plans to nominate a conservative justice on Saturday to succeed liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday. The Republican-led Senate is expected to hold confirmation hearings in mid-October, and may hold a floor vote before Election Day.

If confirmed, Trump’s pick would ensure a 6-3 conservative majority on the court, including three justices nominated by Trump.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Trump said. “And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.”

———

©2020 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

2020 Elections

Washington's Mandatory Sex-education Referendum Tests Conservative Power at the Ballot Box
State News
Washington's Mandatory Sex-education Referendum Tests Conservative Power at the Ballot Box

SEATTLE — This spring, as the coronavirus spread across Washington, a team of stalwart volunteers set up signature-gathering drive-thrus outside churches and stores. Their aim: to put a referendum on the November ballot overturning a new law that required public schools to teach comprehensive sexual health education. Thousands... Read More

Health Care Groups Dive Into California Property Tax Ballot Fight, Eyeing Public Health Money
State News
Health Care Groups Dive Into California Property Tax Ballot Fight, Eyeing Public Health Money

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A November ballot initiative to raise property taxes on big-business owners in California is drawing unconventional political support from health care power players and public health leaders. They see Proposition 15 as a potential savior for chronically underfunded local health departments struggling to respond to the... Read More

Murphy and Waltz Request Briefing from FBI Over Election Interference
2020 Elections
Murphy and Waltz Request Briefing from FBI Over Election Interference
October 23, 2020
by Sara Wilkerson

Yesterday, Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe and Attorney General Bill Barr requesting an official briefing on Russian and Iranian interference in the 2020 election. The request... Read More

Dr. Birx Calls For Mandatory COVID Testing and ‘Sentinel Surveillance’
Health
Dr. Birx Calls For Mandatory COVID Testing and ‘Sentinel Surveillance’
October 23, 2020
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, made an appearance at the National Association of Counties’ Virtual Policy Summit to explain her current prioritization of developing a critical understanding of virus spread on a community level.  “It always struck... Read More

Bipartisan Policy Center Hosts MOCs on Rural Broadband, Telehealth Discussion
Congress
Bipartisan Policy Center Hosts MOCs on Rural Broadband, Telehealth Discussion
October 23, 2020
by Sara Wilkerson

This week, the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank based in Washington, D.C, hosted Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. and Dave Joyce, R-Ohio,  for a discussion of rural broadband access in connection with telehealth and education. The discussion was part of the American Congressional Exchange Program from... Read More

States Lose Fight to Get Postal Service Outside Monitor for Election Mail
State News
States Lose Fight to Get Postal Service Outside Monitor for Election Mail

WASHINGTON — States that claim changes by the U.S. Postal Service will threaten mail-in voting failed again to get an independent monitor appointed to observe the agency's compliance with a court order. U.S. District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh in Philadelphia on Wednesday denied a request from Pennsylvania's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, to assign a former USPS... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top