Trump hints he won’t accept vote if he loses. Pelosi says he’ll be "fumigated" out of White House

“The fact is, whether he knows it yet or not, he will be leaving," Pelosi says

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published July 20, 2020 8:33PM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi (Getty Images/Salon)
Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi (Getty Images/Salon)

President Donald Trump suggested that he may not accept the results of the election if he loses, prompting a strongly-worded rebuke from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace pressed Trump on the possibility of a forthcoming loss in an interview which first aired on Sunday. The current polling average shows Trump trailing by nearly nine points, according to election forecaster FiveThirtyEight.

"I'm not a good loser. I don't like to lose," Trump said. "I don't lose too often. I don't like to lose."

Wallace asked if that meant that he would not accept the election results.

"No. I have to see," Trump replied. "No, I'm not going to just say 'yes.' I'm not going to say 'no,' and I didn't last time either."

Trump then brought up his debunked conspiracy theories about voting by mail, a process which has an incredibly low rate of fraud and numerous built-in protections, to claim that Democrats may "rig" the election.

Pelosi rejected Trump's remarks in an interview with "Morning Joe."

"The fact is, whether he knows it yet or not, he will be leaving," she told the MSNBC morning show on Monday. "Just because he might not want to move out of the White House doesn't mean we won't have an inauguration ceremony to inaugurate a duly elected president of the United States."

Pelosi said simply being present in the White House does not make someone the president.

"There is a process," she said. "It has nothing to do with the certain occupant of the White House doesn't feel like moving and has to be fumigated out of there."

But host Joe Scarborough worried that Trump had already proven that he was capable of doing "whatever he can get away with."

"I think the best and brightest minds in government and out of government now have to start . . . preparing for something that we haven't had to prepare for," he said. "And that is: How does our government, how does our military, how does the Secret Service, how quickly do the courts respond to a sitting president who is defeated at the ballot box and refuses to leave?" 

The progressive grassroots group Stand Up America called Trump's comments an "existential threat to our democracy" which show he has "no respect for the rule of law."

"For five years, Trump has sought to undermine our elections again and again — from soliciting foreign interference to making baseless claims about voter fraud to lying about the results of the 2016 election," Sean Eldridge, the group's founder and president, said in a statement. "The American people must be prepared to mobilize if Trump refuses to concede — and we will be prepared to meet the moment if he does."

Trump was met with pushback and skepticism from Wallace throughout Sunday's interview.

Trump falsely claimed that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden wanted to "defund the police."

"Sir, he does not," Wallace pushed back.

Trump directed an aide to find a copy of a document he claimed showed Biden wanted to "abolish" the police, but Wallace pointed out the document said no such thing. Biden actually supports increasing federal funding for police.

A similar moment occurred when Trump falsely insisted that the U.S. had the lowest coronavirus death rate in the world.

"That's not true, sir," Wallace replied.

Trump then directed press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to produce a chart he claimed showed that the U.S. had the "lowest mortality rate anywhere in the world."

Fox News cut away to fact-check the president, explaining that the White House chart did not show that the U.S. had the lowest death rate in the world. It notably excluded several countries that had a lower death rate.

Elsewhere in the interview, Wallace cited polls showing more Americans believe Biden will be more competent as president than Trump.

"Well, I'll tell you what, let's take a test. Let's take a test right now," Trump said. "Let's go down. Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took."

Trump was referring to a cognitive test, which he claims left doctors "very surprised" after he aced it.

"I took the test, too, when I heard you passed it. It's not the hardest test," Wallace responded. "They have a picture, and it says: 'What's that?' And it's an elephant."

"No, no, no. You see, that's all misrepresentation," Trump insisted. "Because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I'll bet you couldn't even answer the last five questions. I'll bet you couldn't. They get very hard, the last five questions."

Reporter Julia Davis posted an image of the final five questions on the test, noting that they ask things like "What day is it?" and "Where are you?"

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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