President Donald Trump again declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the Nov. 3 presidential election, prompting responses from Maine's congressional delegation.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said Wednesday at a news conference, responding to a question about whether he’d commit to a peaceful transfer of power. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster."
Sen. Angus King said Thursday on 'A Starting Point' that the peaceful transfer of power is one of the essential elements of the American experiment, setting us apart from countries around the world and throughout history.
"President Trump's recent refusal to validate that principal, to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, is appalling, dangerous, and absolutely chilling," King said. "His efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the election, to question the results of the election before it's even occurred, are very dangerous for our country and frankly are an invitation to violence."
"We can solve our problems through elections. We can handle elections," he added. "The results this year may not be fully available on election night. That's nothing new. That's nothing that hasn't happened before. It's happened in my elections in Maine."
"This year will be no different," Sen. Susan Collins tweeted. "The winner of the presidential election will be sworn in on January 20th."
“The peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of a functioning democracy. Everyone committed to our democracy knows that to be true. To deny that is not a decision that one person can make on behalf of our country,” Rep. Jared Golden said.
"Democracy itself depends on the peaceful transfer of power. Pres. Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric continues to undermine the foundational principles of our nation," Rep. Chellie Pingree tweeted. "It should alarm every American that his only aim is to keep power for himself."
It is highly unusual that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process. But he also declined four years ago to commit to honoring the election results if his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, won.
His current Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, was asked about Trump’s comment after landing in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday night.
“What country are we in?” Biden asked incredulously, adding: “I’m being facetious. Look, he says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say about it. But it doesn’t surprise me.”
Trump has also tweeted a 'Trump 4EVA' tweet in the past which shows Trump campaign signs extending into the year 3000, suggesting he feels he could stay in power longer than the two four-year terms allotted to each U.S. president.
Trump has been pressing a monthslong campaign against mail-in voting this November by tweeting and speaking out critically about the practice. More states are encouraging mail-in voting to keep voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The president, who uses mail-in voting himself, has tried to distinguish between states that automatically send mail ballots to all registered voters and those, like Florida, that send them only to voters who request a mail ballot.
Trump has baselessly claimed widespread mail voting will lead to massive fraud. The five states that routinely send mail ballots to all voters have seen no significant fraud.
Trump on Wednesday appeared to suggest that if states got “rid of” the unsolicited mailing of ballots there would be no concern about fraud or peaceful transfers of power.
"Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very trans- you'll have a peaceful-- there won't be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation," Trump said. "The ballots are out of control, you know it, and you know, who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”
In a July interview, Trump similarly refused to commit to accepting the results, and he made similar comments ahead of the 2016 election.
“I have to see. Look ... I have to see,” Trump told Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging July interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”