President Donald Trump on Wednesday blatantly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power following November’s general election.
“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 said when pressed by a reporter to commit to ensuring a peaceful transfer of power.
As the same reporter further pressed the president, Trump said, “We want to ... get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful, there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”
“The ballots are out of control, you know it, and you know who knows it better than anybody else?” Trump said. “The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”
The rapid response director for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign greeted Trump’s latest comments by pointing to a campaign statement from July.
“The American people will decide this election,” Biden’s rapid response director Andrew Bates said. “And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
The president’s comments were also condemned by the head of the Federal Election Commission. “In case anyone is unclear on the concept, in the United States of America, we do not “get rid of” ballots. We count them. Counting the ballots – *all* the ballots – is the way we determine who leads our country after our elections. The only way,” Ellen L. Weintraub wrote on Twitter late Wednesday.
Trump has continued to attack the integrity of the upcoming election, focusing especially on the integrity of mail-in ballots. But as has been the case throughout the entirety of his presidency, there is no evidence for the mass fraud he has continued to allege. Trump has also lied and said on the campaign trail that “the only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”
The president had also caused dismay, outrage and concern when he raised the possibility of delaying November’s election back in July, even though it was clear he did not have the ability, or the authority, to make such a move.
Trump and the Republican party have rushed to quickly appoint a successor to liberal U.S. Supreme Court icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last Friday. The president plans to announce his pick Saturday, and made clear earlier in the day Wednesday his frantic push with roughly six weeks to election day is tied to his attacks on election integrity as he continues to claim mass mail-in voter fraud without substantial proof.
“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it's very important that we have nine justices and I think the system's gonna go very quickly,” Trump said.
After saying there's “a lot of time” before the election, Trump made clear he believes it's better to get the new justice confirmed before Nov. 3, citing his false belief of mass voter fraud.
“I think this scam, that the Democrats are pulling, it's a scam,” Trump said. “This scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation, if you get that. I don't know that you'd get that. I think it should be 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.”
The president also appeared to once again call out his own health officials at his latest news conference on Wednesday.
When a reporter asked about a report that the Food and Drug Administration was looking at “stricter guidelines” for emergency authorization for the coronavirus vaccine, Trump criticized it as something that “sounds like a political move,” after saying it would need White House approval.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week on the move being in the works, writing that it would “make it exceedingly difficult for any vaccine to be cleared before Election Day.”
According to the Post, the effort came about to help improve public morale for the eventual vaccine. Trump has touted an aggressive timeline for the vaccine, even if it means publicly undercutting the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the matter.
Trump wrapped up his press conference in around 16 minutes before handing it off to others in the briefing room, but left things unsettled.
“I have to leave for an emergency phone call,” Trump said as a reporter called out a question about Breonna Taylor and the unrest that continues to rip through the country.