As the election nears, Donald Trump is sounding less like the leader of the free world, and more like an aspiring dictator. In the latest demonstration of his tin-pot tendencies, Trump is refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election to Democrat Joe Biden.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” the president told a reporter during a Wednesday press conference. Trump then proceeded to question the integrity of the election, underscoring that he’s been “complaining very strongly about the ballots.” This was an apparent reference to the widespread adoption of vote-by-mail during the pandemic, which Trump has been warning, against all evidence, will be “fraudulent” and lead to a “rigged” election.
“The ballots are a disaster,” Trump said from the podium, before slipping, directly into the speech of an autocrat: “Get rid of the ballots,” Trump said, “and you’ll have a peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was quick to call out the president, vowing “America will not permit you to be… a dictator”:
President Trump: You are not a dictator, and America will not permit you to be one. https://t.co/42krs0X50l
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 23, 2020
Watch the disturbing exchange from Trump’s press conference, and read a slightly edited transcript, below:
Reporter: "Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?"
President Trump: "We're going to have to see what happens." pic.twitter.com/h5RF3dKPD1
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 23, 2020
Reporter: Win, lose or draw in this election. Will you commit, here today, for a peaceful transferal of power after the election? There’s been rioting in many cities across this country. Would you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?
Trump: Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster and —
Reporter: But people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferal of power?
Trump: We want to have… Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful– there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control, you know. And you know, who knows it better than anybody else. The Democrats know it better than anybody else.