When President Trump could have thrown the smallest of bones towards the ideas underpinning a stable democracy, he tripled down on the idea that he owed no such thing to the country.
In a relentless and head-spinning rant, the President at Tuesday’s debate refused to promise a peaceful transition in the event of his defeat, he threw out some of his most sensationally bogus claims about mail-in voting yet, and he made clear that he’s counting on the Supreme Court to take a “look” at the ballots.
The tirade was shocking but not surprising for a President who claimed falsely that the 2016 election that he won was nonetheless marred by “millions” of fraudulent voters that explained his defeat in the popular vote.
On Tuesday, he predicted baselessly that the 2020 election will feature “fraud like you have never seen.” He conjured bizarre images of ballots of “found in creeks,” “dumped in rivers” and “sold” by “mailmen.”
The diatribe was kicked off by simple question from debate moderator Chris Wallace: What would each candidate do in the next month and a half to assure the American public that the next president was the legitimate winner of November’s election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden urged Americans to put aside all the fear-mongering Trump was doing about the election, and to embrace the power they have to end his presidency by voting him out of office.
“This is all about trying to dissuade people from voting because he is trying to scare people into thinking it’s not going to be legitimate,” Biden said. “Show up and vote. You will determine the outcome of this election.”
When Trump’s turn was up, he jumped immediately into the baseless idea that he was somehow denied a “peaceful transition,” reiterating his frequent yet ridiculous claims that the Russia probe was an attempted “coup” on his presidency.
“So don’t tell me about a free transition,” he sniped at Biden.
“As far as the ballots are concerned, it’s a disaster,” Trump continued. He tried to walk through some of the overhyped claims of election irregularities that have been sensationalized by his allies, including his own Justice Department’s odd handling of an administrative error in Pennsylvania that affected a handful of military ballots. He then landed on what appears to be the focal point of his efforts to delegitimize the election by suggesting that any election that takes longer than Election Day night to report is somehow suspect.
“It’s nice, on Nov. 3 you’re watching and you see who won the election, and I think we’re going to do well,” Trump predicted. “But you know what? We might not know for months because these ballots are going to be all over.”
Wallace jumped in to pin down Trump on whether he was expecting the Supreme Court — including his nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett — to settle any disputes that arise from the election.
“I think I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely. I hope we don’t need them, in terms of the election itself, but for the ballots, I think so,” Trump said, before he pivoted back to his claims of mail-in voting being a “horrible thing for this country.”
“This is not going to end well,” he predicted.