President Donald Trump railed about mail-in voting, which he cast as vulnerable to foreign interference – and raised the prospect Wednesday that a contested presidential election could be thrown to the House.
He also vowed to squelch any violent protests on Election Day, warning they will be ‘put down very, very quickly.
The president exploded about mail-in voting at a White House press briefing after DailyMail.com asked him about his earlier vow to ‘put down’ any potential violent election protests, which he said would amount to an ‘insurrection.’
Trump said at a White House briefing that ‘at a certain point it goes to Congress’ raising the prospect of a contested election
He then raised the prospect of an election so disputed that it ends up being decided not by the direct vote or the Electoral College, but by the House of Representatives.
‘It’s not just the counting of the ballots, which, by the way will take forever,’ Trump fumed. ‘It’ll take forever. You think November 3rd? You might not have – I guess, at a certain point it goes to Congress. At a certain point it goes to Congress – you know that,’ he said.
The Constitution provides for the House to decide disputed elections, where each state delegation gets a single vote – a situation that could favor the Republicans, depending on the composition of the new Congress.
Although Democrats currently control the House and are likely to keep it, Republicans currently control a majority of state delegations.
Trump unloaded on mail-in ballots, which he describes as fraudulent, even as he defended his own absentee ballot in Florida. Several states use mail-in ballots for their elections.
People outside a Dolce & Gabbana store in Soho on Monday, June 1, 2020 in Manhattan, N.Y. Trump vowed to put down any violent demonstrations on Election Day
Trump was asaked about Attorney General Bill Barr urging prosecutors to go after violent prosecutors with sedition charges, as well as his own comments about putting down violent protests, which he previously termed an ‘insurrection’
The president raised the prospect of a contested being thrown to the House
The president once again railed against mail-in voting. Here a workere prepares absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020
‘It’s very dangerous for our country. And you know who knows that better than anybody? The Democrats,’ Trump said.
Asked about his prior comments, made on Judge Jeanine Pirro’s show on Fox, as well as attorney general Bill Barr urging prosecutors to go after violent prosecutors with sedition charges, Trump responded: ‘If there’s any kind of demonstration of violence, there will be nothing that interferes with this product, this vote.’
‘There’s going to be nothing,’ he added.
‘If we have violent demonstrations yes we will put it down very, very quickly if there is, absolutely.
Then he continued: ‘The biggest problem we have right now are the ballots. Millions of ballots going out. That’s the biggest problem.’
Trump then dismissed intelligence warnings about Russian election interference, as well as preferences by China and Iran. ‘When you talk about other countries, whether it’s China, Russia, or many others that get mentioned, they’re in a much better position with these paper ballots to do something than they would ever be under the old system,’ Trump said.
Trump said he considered Democratic governors pushing mail voting amid the pandemic a greater threat than Russia.
‘Our biggest threat to this election is governors from opposing parties controlling ballots, millions of ballots. To me that’s a much bigger threat than foreign countries,’ Trump said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Barr had warned prosecutors that violent protests could escalate as the elections approach, and pushed them to use the rarely used sedition laws, which would require the feds to prove a conspiracy against the government.
The president’s comments ran through a handful of issues that threaten to form a toxic combination on Election Day: new and competing forms of voting, the potential for foreign interference, accusations of partisanship in election oversight, and angry demonstrations after a summer of protest.
He declined to answer repeated follow-ups by DailyMail.com about whether he might declare victory before mail-in ballots are counted.
‘This is a disgrace. This is being done on purpose. They know it’s no good. they know it’s going to be fraudulent. It’s going to be fraud all over the place. Who’s getting the ballots? Who’s sending the ballots?’ Trump asked.
‘They have people saying you don’t need a verified signature. This is a serious threat to our democracy, and the Democrats know that,’ Trump said.
Trump defended his own use of the mail to vote – with the frequent flier saying he couldn’t make it to battleground Florida, where he switched his residence from New York.
‘If you solicit the ballot, you go through a process. You ask for a ballot because you can’t be there for a large number of reasons – I’m doing it myself,’ Trump said. ‘I won’t be able to be in Florida. You solicit and they send it back. You do it and you send it back. that’s the process that you go through.’
But he would only give his full support to in-person voting, and said the coronavirus would be less of a threat by Election Day.
‘The thing that really works is you go to the ballot box. it’s going to be very safe,’ he said.
‘I think by that time covid will be even lower. it’s going to be very low. It’s going to be a very safe process,’ Trump said.
He complained about Nevada’s Democratic governor Steve Sisolak holding oversight over elections in his state, and brought up a recent grievance after having two planned outdoor rallies shut down.
He called Sisolak someone ‘who is a political person, very political, far beyond being governor, where they try to stop you from making a speech unsuccessfully, but we had to move around a lot, had to move quickly. So this same guy that tried to stop you from making free speech outside, they forced us inside because of what they did. But outside. This is the guy that’s controlling ballots,’ Trump said.
He complained about ‘missing ballots, ballots that never showed up, ballots with bad signatures, ballots with no signatures …’
He claimed without evidence that Democratic governors would open states once the elections are over – and claimed they wanted bad coronavirus numbers.
‘It’ll open on November 4th. it’ll open up right after the election. but they want people to — they want our numbers to be as bad as possible,’ Trump said.
Trump’s politically volatile comments came at a briefing where he started out showing a chart with morbidity from the coronavirus. ”The blue states have tremendous death rates,’ Trump said of traditionally Democratic-voting states. ‘If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level I don’t think anybody in the world would be at,’ he said.