Democrats prepare for Trump to disrupt the election
President Donald Trump's repeated claims that the presidential election will be rigged and his refusal to commit to a peaceful transition have ratcheted up Democratic fears Trump will mobilize the federal government to help him win in November, sparking furious preparations for a post-election counterattack.
Democrats are bracing for a wide range of seemingly improbable scenarios, covering everything from Trump trying to deploy federal law enforcement officials to the polls, to Republican state legislatures overruling a state's popular vote, to Trump declaring victory on election night when millions of mail-in ballots still have to be counted.
Democratic sources tell CNN the party's legal apparatus is preparing to respond to any potential scenario that arises, whether it's fighting disputed state counts in court, a state's slate of electors or the deployment of federal law enforcement officers to states.
The preparations may sound alarmist, but Democrats say they need to look no further than Trump's own rhetoric for reason to fear a scenario where the integrity of the presidential election-and its result --- face a grave challenge.
"The Biden campaign has assembled the biggest voter protection program in history to ensure the election runs smoothly and to combat any attempt by Donald Trump to create fear and confusion with our voting system, or interfere in the democratic process," said Joe Biden campaign spokesman Mike Gwin.
In recent weeks, Trump has said he wants to send "law enforcement" officers and "US attorneys" to polling places to guard against
alleged voter fraud, a scenario that is legally suspect. Since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he's said that his nominee to the Supreme Court needs to be confirmed because the election is likely to go before the high court.
Trump has repeatedly made false claims that mail-in voting is ripe with fraud, and he's suggested the results of the election should be known on Election Night, something elections experts have said is simply not the case due to the influx of absentee ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic. More of Trump's votes are likely to be counted first because a greater percentage of Republicans are planning to vote in person rather than by mail.
"The only way we're going to lose this election is if this election is rigged," Trump said last month.
And last week, Trump refused to agree to a peaceful transition of power after the election should he lose, saying, "We're going to have to see what happens."
The Trump campaign has argued its legal efforts are intended to stop Democrats from changing voting rules just before the election. Republicans on Capitol Hill disagreed with Trump's refusal to agree to a peaceful transition, saying that one will occur once the winner of the election is determined. Many Republicans have argued Trump is just using rhetoric to rile up his critics and the media, dismissing the idea that he would try to stand in the way of a legitimate election result.
"The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted the morning after Trump's comments.
But Democrats are warning their GOP colleagues not to dismiss Trump's comments-and to stand up to him if he refuses to concede the election.