Fact Check: Trump Already Said He Would Leave Office If He Lost

Trump press briefing (Mandel Gan / AFP / Getty)
Mandel Gan / AFP / Getty

CLAIM: President Donald Trump won’t say whether he would accept the peaceful transition of power if he loses the election.

VERDICT: FALSE: Trump has answered the question several times already, noting he will accept defeat if he loses.

Several media outlets reported Wednesday that President Donald Trump is refusing to say whether he will leave office if he loses and accept a “peaceful transition of power.”

The issue arose again in a press briefing, when perennial gadfly Brian Karem of Playboy asked Trump about it — as if he had not answered the question already.

Trump responded by talking about all the problems with the voting process — and noted that he did not expect to leave, because he expected to win.

But the entire controversy is contrived: Trump has already answered the question — several times.

The Washington Post reported in June, in an article titled “Trump says he’ll ‘go on and do other things’ if he loses in November“:

President Trump shrugged off an accusation from Joe Biden that he would try to steal the election, saying if he doesn’t win he’ll “go on and do other things.”

“Certainly if I don’t win, I don’t win. I mean, you know, go on and do other things,” Trump said during a Fox News interview that aired Friday afternoon.

“I think that would be a very sad thing for our country,” he added.

The Post noted that Trump had given similar answers before, notably in response to Chuck Todd of NBC News.

The media’s insistence on asking the question over and over again reprises a tactic used in the 2016 election, when journalists repeatedly asked Trump whether he disavowed white supremacist David Duke, even after he had done so several times.

The purpose appeared to be to suggest that Trump had not done so — and to associate Trump with Duke, regardless.

Likewise with the question about a “peaceful transition” — coming, as it does, as the far-left uses violence on a nightly basis in an effort to force political change.

Democrats arguably refused to accept a peaceful transition of power in 2016, launching abusive investigations into “Russia collusion” that led, indirectly, to the impeachment process.

Both the Trump campaign and Joe Biden’s campaign are gearing up for legal fights over the results of the election, as problems loom with mail-in voting in several states. Neither side will simply accept defeat if the results are questionable.

Notably, Hillary Clinton has already urged Biden not to concede defeat “under any circumstances.”

Regardless, defending the right to a free, fair, and legitimate election can hardly be equated to rejecting a peaceful transition of power.

The Constitution requires Trump to leave office in 2025 if he is re-elected to a second, and final, term.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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