President Trump on Wednesday refused to clearly guarantee a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the upcoming US election in November to Joe Biden.
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Mr Trump responded when asked at a White House press conference whether he is committed to the most basic tenet of democratic rule in the United States.
Mr Trump, who is currently behind in the polls against Democratic challenger Mr Biden, then resumed his near daily complaint about the way the election is being organised.
Apparently referring to the increased use of mail-in ballots – due to the coronavirus pandemic – he said: “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.”
Mr Trump frequently claims that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to mass fraud and are being encouraged by Democrats to rig the election.
However, there is no evidence that ballots sent through the postal service have ever led to significant fraud in US elections.
At the press conference, Mr Trump seemed to suggest annulling what are expected to be the huge numbers of mailed-in ballots, saying that in such a scenario, he would remain in power.
“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation,” he said.
He was immediately criticised, including by Republican senator and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney: