President Donald Trump continued to cast doubt on whether he will peacefully stand aside if he loses the upcoming election to Joe Biden. As reported by CNN, Trump again pointed to unsolicited mail-in votes as a reason to assume the election results could be wrong.
Earlier on Thursday, the Republican Party said it was committed to a legal and normal transfer of power if Biden wins. Party officials were putting out fires caused by comments Trump made on Wednesday saying there “won’t be a transfer, frankly” if mail-in votes are used.
Despite Republicans backtracking the president, Trump decided to double down on his rhetoric when preparing to leave the White House Thursday night. He continued to argue mail ballot voting is rife with fraud and the method would cast doubt on the election results.
“We have to be very careful with the ballots, the ballots, that’s a whole big scam,” Trump told reporters.
Despite Trump’s accusations, there is no evidence that mail votes are a serious fraud risk. Furthermore, this voting process is only accepted in nine states and Washington, D.C. Still, Trump continues to stick to his position and has cast doubt on whether he would agree to stand down as president.
He said the November election must be “honest” and “I’m not sure that it can be, I don’t know that it can be with this whole situation, unsolicited ballots, they’re unsolicited, millions being sent to everybody.”
Reporters again pressed Trump on whether he would stand down should he lose the election, and he again refused to commit.
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.”
Peaceful presidential transitions are one of the cornerstones of the U.S. political system. It would be an unprecedented move for an incumbent to refuse to leave office and make way for a successor.
While Trump is standing behind his message of mail-in voting fraud, he has threatened to refuse a transition of power since 2016. Shortly after winning his presidency, he said he’ll “have to see” if he would step down or stay beyond his constitutional term. That initial statement was believed to be a joke, but as the election approaches it is looking increasingly like he was serious.
Earlier this week, The Atlantic reported on the ramifications if Trump refuses to concede. There are mechanisms to ensure an incumbent cannot unfairly hold on to power. However, Democrats in Washington are concerned a refusal to concede the presidency would cause civil unrest, require a battle in the courts, and shake the foundations of the U.S. political system.