“We have to be very careful with the ballots, the ballots, that’s a whole big scam,” Trump falsely told reporters before departing the White House on Thursday, referring to unsolicited mail-in ballots that only nine states and Washington, DC, provide.
The November contest, he said, needs to be “honest,” adding that, “I’m not sure that it can be, I don’t know that it can be with this whole situation, unsolicited ballots, they’re unsolicited, millions being sent to everybody.”
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said when asked whether he’d commit to a peaceful transition, one of the cornerstones of American democracy.
He has previously refused to say whether he would accept the election results, echoing his sentiments from 2016 that he’ll “have to see.” And Trump has joked — he says — about staying in office well past the constitutionally bound two terms.
But the President’s refusal to guarantee a violence-free transition went further and is likely to alarm his opponents, who are already on edge given his deployment of federal law enforcement to quell protests in American cities.
Earlier Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not explicitly say the President would accept the results of the election, only saying Trump would “accept the results of a free and fair election.”
However, the President himself continues to cast doubt on whether he will view this election as “free and fair.”
Additionally, the President’s distinction between mail-in voting and absentee voting has baffled experts who say those voting systems are essentially the same thing.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.