Trump’s “Transfer of Power” Quote Will Grab the Headlines. But His Full Statement Is Way Scarier.

Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Zuma

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At President Trump’s Wednesday evening news conference, a reporter asked the president, “Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferral of power after the election?”

In normal times, the answer would be obvious. But under Trump, such questions are seemingly designed to elicit an authoritarian response.

“Well, we’re gonna have to see what happens,” Trump replied, echoing his previous unwillingness to state definitively that he would accept the results of the 2020 election. This reply immediately got attention online.

But Trump’s refusal to answer the question wasn’t nearly as scary as what came after.

“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a peaceful—there won’t be a transfer, frankly,” Trump continued. “There’ll be a continuation.”

By alluding to mail-in ballots, which the president has repeatedly, falsely argued are linked to voter fraud, Trump raised the specter of his deliberately manipulating the election to ensure that he is not voted out of office. He’s long toyed with the idea of refusing election results by playing the “we’ll have to see” tactic. Now, he’s talking about getting rid of ballots too.

“The ballots are out of control,” he said. “You know it, and you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

As we recently wrote, Trump sees one path to victory: Trash the Constitution.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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