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Trump Plans ‘Emergency’ to Stay in Office, Top Democrat Says

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 8/2/2020 Stephen Cunningham

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump has no intention of “peacefully” transferring power if he loses the November election, according to House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

Trump, who floated the idea of delaying the vote last week over fraud concerns, neither plans to leave the White House nor hold “fair and unfettered elections,” the Democratic Representative from South Carolina said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I believe that he plans to install himself in some kind of emergency way to continue to hold onto office,” Clyburn said. “And that’s why the American people had better wake up.”

Trump stirred outrage with a Twitter message on Thursday suggesting it might be best to “Delay the Election until people can properly, security and safely vote???”

The comment was roundly criticized across the political spectrum. A U.S. president can’t alter the election date without the consent of lawmakers, who’ve already rejected the idea.

Clyburn’s reaction on Sunday was one of the strongest to date. Trump is seeking to “put a cloud over the election” with “strong-arm tactics,” he said, comparing him to a dictator.

Trump suggested delaying the vote until after the coronavirus -- and its risks of becoming infected while in public places -- eases. He argued without evidence that mail-in voting will be subject to widespread fraud.

Jim Clyburn wearing a suit and tie: House Democrats News Conference On Legislation To Remove Confederate Statues From U.S. Capitol © Bloomberg House Democrats News Conference On Legislation To Remove Confederate Statues From U.S. Capitol

House Majority Whip James Clyburn

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Trump later said he wasn’t really suggesting a delay but was warning that it would be days “or even years” until the nation knew the outcome if mail-in balloting was used.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on CBS that “if we try to transform this and start mailing in ballots all across the country, all 50 states, what we will see is a delay because they’re just not equipped to handle it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that “each state ought to decide” how best to conduct its elections.

“Custom-crafted election systems in each of the 50 states is consistent with the Constitution,” McConnell said on Gray TV’s “Full Court Press.”

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