Donald Trump has again declined to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses November’s US presidential election.
The president has for several months been pressing a campaign against mail-in voting in the poll by tweeting and speaking out critically about the practice, which has been encouraged by more states as a way of keeping voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Mr Trump told reporters in response to a question about whether he would 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.”
Mr Trump has baselessly claimed widespread mail voting will lead to massive fraud, despite the five states that routinely send mail ballots to all voters having seen no significant fraud.
On Wednesday he 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.
He said: “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 it, and you know, who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”
Mr Trump similarly refused to commit to accepting the results during an interview in July and made similar comments ahead of the 2016 election.
“I have to see. Look … I have to see,” he told Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging July interview on Fox News Sunday in July. “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
Joe Biden’s campaign responded on Wednesday, as it did after Trump’s July comments, by saying: “The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
It is highly unusual that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process.
But Mr Trump four years ago, when in the closing stages of his race against Hillary Clinton, also declined to commit to honoring the election results if the Democrat won.