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

Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Zuma

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.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.”

Q: Will you commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election?
TRUMP: “We’re gonna have to see what happens.”
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 23, 2020

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.