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Trump appears to be inviting a constitutional crisis

September 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld

This story first appeared at Voting Booth.

In the first televised presidential debate, President Trump questioned the ability of America’s election officials to conduct an honest election this fall and said that he would not sit idly by “if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated. I can’t go along with that.”

“It means you have a fraudulent election,” Trump continued, speaking over moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, who asked both candidates if they would pledge to not “engage in any civil unrest” and “not declare victory” until all of the votes had been counted.

“You’re sending out 80 million ballots. They’re not equipped—these people [election officials, postal workers] are not equipped to handle it—number one,” Trump said. “Number two, they cheat. They cheat. Hey, they found ballots in a wastepaper basket three days ago and they all had the name military ballot. They were military. They all had the name Trump on them.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, countered, “He has no idea what he is talking about. The fact is I will accept it [the results] after complete count. And he will too. You know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted, that’ll be the end of it. That’ll be the end of it.”

Never before in modern history has a presidential debate ended with the incumbent refusing to say whether he would accept the results of an upcoming election and not agreeing to an orderly post-Election Day process—and the challenger saying that it doesn’t matter what the incumbent mistakenly believes, if he’s voted out of office he will have to leave.

Beyond Trump’s nonstop interruptions, accusations and bellowing that marked the debate, the president appeared to be inviting a constitutional crisis if the margins are close in swing states and the results were not known on Election Day, November 3—which they almost certainly will not be, because, as Wallace noted, eight states only start processing absentee ballots that day.

“Can you imagine where they say you have to have your ballot in by November tenth, November tenth,” Trump said. “That means, that’s seven days after the election [winner] in theory should have been announced. We have major states with that. All run by Democrats. All run by Democrats. It’s a rigged election.”

Trump also said that he expected the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved—including the …read more


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