Bernie Sanders Warns of 'Nightmare Scenario' Where Trump Refuses to Step Down

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said President Donald Trump will likely do everything he can to delegitimize the upcoming election, warning Americans from both parties that Trump may refuse to step down in post-Election Day "nightmare scenario."

Sanders is one of many top Democrats, and some anti-Trump conservatives, who are sounding the alarm about what to do if the president refuses to leave office even if he loses the election. Speaking with The New York Times Monday night, the former Democratic primary candidate warned "we are living in an unprecedented and dangerous moment, extremely dangerous moment, in American history." Sanders urged states to count mail-in ballots as quickly as possible because the longer the count lasts, the more likely it is Trump will inflame chaos in order to delegitimize the election altogether.

"If you [start counting ballots] from zero on election night, and you've got hundreds of thousands or millions of absentee ballots, how long is that going to take you to count?" Sanders told the Times Monday. "It will take a very long time. And that will allow the fomenting of conspiracy theories and so-called fraud and everything else."

Sanders said he plans to spend the next six weeks focusing his pre-election energy trying to prepare both Democrats and Republicans for the "nightmare scenario" that Trump refuses to leave office. The Independent senator reiterated the president's own words from both 2016 and this year that if he loses the election, he's prepared to declare it "the greatest rigged election in history."

"My main focus is to prevent Donald Trump from staying in office if he loses the election, to prevent him from delegitimizing the election results, to make sure that every vote cast is counted, to make sure that voters are not intimidated," Sanders continued.

Sanders said he will deliver a speech Thursday in which he plans to outline the dangerous ground Trump is treading by seeking to undermine the election should he lose to former Vice President Joe Biden on November 3. "This speech is going to be about whether or not the United State of America will continue to be a democracy and a nation ruled by law and our Constitution." Sanders said he believes Biden has an "excellent chance" of defeating Trump in the upcoming election.

"[We must] do everything that we can to prevent that from happening," Sanders continued, noting that Trump recently suggested trying to delay the election.

Sanders told the Times he is demanding answers from social media companies about how they plan to "handle" potential Election Night chaos. Facebook executives announced this week they plan to restrict content and implement aggressive measures should Election Day descend into chaos or violence, Forbes reported Tuesday.

Sanders is not the only Trump critic sounding the alarm about the consequences of the upcoming November elections. New York Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Friday the election may determine the "survival" of many Americans. She urged disenchanted voters, Sanders' primary supporters and other on-the-fence Americans to "act in solidarity" in voting Trump out of office.

"November is about survival," Ocasio-Cortez said Friday. "Voting for Joe Biden is no longer about whether you agree with him. It's a vote to let our democracy live another day."

Sanders sent an email to supporters earlier this month warning them about "Trump's threat to our constitutionally enshrined system of the peaceful transition of power."

Newsweek reached out to both the Trump campaign and Sanders' Burlington, Vermont, offices for additional remarks Tuesday morning but did not receive replies before publication.

bernie sanders trump leave office
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said President Donald Trump will likely do everything he can to delegitimize the upcoming election, warning Americans from both parties that Trump may refuse to step down in post-Election Day "nightmare scenario." BRITTANY HOSEA-SMALL / Contributor/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders Warns of 'Nightmare Scenario' Where Trump Refuses to Step Down | Politics