Former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence Olivia Troye said Friday night that she and other White House staffers had discussed the possibility that President Donald Trump could refuse to leave the White House after potentially losing the November presidential election, long before he made the remarks during a briefing on Wednesday.
When asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday if Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event that he loses the upcoming election surprised her, Troye said, “It does not.”
Troye, who left the White House in August and has since endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden, told CNN that she had engaged in closed-door conversations with White House staffers and other government officials including members of the intelligence community who discussed possible scenarios of Trump refusing to leave office.
Troye warned on Friday that Trump’s comments should be taken seriously, even if they’re disguised as jokes.
“The president when he’s joking, if he says that he’s joking, he’s telling you a half truth,” Troye said. “And in there is something fairly frightening and scary.”
“What you see is what you get,” she added. “You should trust that. He doesn’t hide it.”
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump “will accept the results of a free and fair election.”
But late Friday Trump appeared to double down on his potential refusal to commit to a peaceful departure if he loses. During a campaign rally in Newport News, Virginia the President suggested that he would only lose the upcoming election if Democrats cheated, adding: “we’re not going to stand for it.”
“I want a smooth, beautiful transition,” Trump claimed, adding: “But it’s got to be an honest vote.”
In a continuous effort by the President to undermine mail-in voting which he has repeatedly claimed will yield fraudulent results, he said the election was a “disaster waiting to happen.”
“I could be leading, and then they’ll just keep getting ballots and ballots and ballots and ballots,” Trump complained of anticipated delays related to mailed votes, adding: “So if we’re waiting for one state, does that mean the whole nation, the whole world is going to wait for one state?”
Trump said that amid an expansion of mail-in voting, mailed ballots were“very hard to watch,” adding that “the only way” he would lose is “if there’s mischief.”
The President at one point even talked on Friday of canceling the election altogether. First suggesting that his popularity would be much higher if his achievements hadn’t been overshadowed by reports speculating that he had ties with Russia, Trump went on to say that in such a scenario Democrats would be prone to conceding to a continuation of his presidency without contest realizing they “have no chance.”