What Trump Has Said About Leaving Office If He Loses Election

President Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the November 3 election as he again sought to question the integrity of mail-in ballots.

Speaking at a White House press briefing on Wednesday, the commander-in-chief said he would "have to see what happens" on election night and called mail-in ballots "out of control" as he set the tone for the contesting of results.

Reacting to the president's remarks, GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah tweeted: "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable."

But it was not the first time Trump has hinted that he might not accept the 2020 election results while making unfounded claims about mail-in voting leading to widespread electoral fraud.

President Donald Trump in Press Room
Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. He said he would "have to see what happens" on election night. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Here's a look at what the president has said over the past few months about accepting, or not accepting, the results of the 2020 election.

September 23

Appearing in the White House press room last night, Trump was flatly asked whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power as Americans continued to witness riots unfolding across the country.

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," the president replied. "I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster."

When he was pressed again on whether he would or would not accept a peaceful transfer of power should he fail to win on election night, Trump again attacked mail-in ballots.

"Get rid of the ballots and we'll have a very peaceful... there won't be a transfer," he said. "Frankly, there will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control."

August 24

Delivering his first speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention, Trump readied his supporters to believe the election is "rigged" should he fail to win a second term in the White House on November 3.

"The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election," the commander-in-chief said. "We're going to win this election."

The president also made the unfounded claim that people would be bribed to take mail-in election ballots or otherwise commit voter fraud.

August 19

Just a few days earlier, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to be drawn on whether her boss would accept the outcome of the 2020 election and allow for the peaceful transfer of power.

"The president has always said he'll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath," McEnany said. "It's the same thing he said last November. He wants a free election, a fair election and he wants confidence in the results of the election."

The Trump administration official added that the president wanted to take a "hard look" at the results and was fearful of voter fraud.

July 19

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, the moderator of the first 2020 presidential debate next week, pressed Trump on whether he would accept the outcome of the contest in a July edition of Fox News Sunday.

"Can you give a direct answer? You will accept the election?" Wallace asked the president as he accused Hillary Clinton of failing to accept the outcome of the 2016 election.

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