The Wall Street Journal poured cold water on President Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition.
The newspaper’s right-leaning editorial board published an op-ed Friday dismissing the president’ repeated threats to reject an election loss as just another one of his provocations, and insisted he lacked the necessary support to pull off such a constitutional assault.
“President Trump’s insistence on saying the opposite of whatever the press demands is a source of more than a little of his political success as well as many self-defeating blunders,” the Journal’s editorial board wrote. “The media and intelligentsia have worked themselves into a frenzy over imaginary fears that Mr. Trump will somehow remain in office by force if he loses the 2020 election.”
The president’s term legally ends Jan. 20, 2021, and the Constitution would install House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as chief executive if Congress hasn’t certified a winner, and Democrats hold onto their House majority after November’s election.
“GOP House and Senate leaders have already repudiated Mr. Trump’s remarks,” the board wrote. “If he tried to remain after Joe Biden was certified as the winner, his political support would collapse.”
The editorial board also questioned how the president could carry out that unlawful maneuver without the support of his own security agencies or some top military leaders, and the Journal argued that Trump was actually right — if rash — to refuse to concede defeat before the election is even held.
“The rule of law is vital to free and fair elections, and Mr. Trump is right not to forswear his legal options,” the board wrote. “Yet his reckless comments give credence to Democratic hysteria, and he should clarify his views if he doesn’t want to lose more voters who think he lacks the temperament or self-control for the office.”
The board then accuses Trump’s opponents of making the same threats, by selectively quoting Hillary Clinton’s recommendation that Biden hold off on concession until all the votes are counted, and accused Democrats of trying to inflame public opinion against the president.
“The sad reality is that Democratic opinion leaders have been waiting for a Reichstag fire moment from the minute Mr. Trump took office,” the board wrote. “Their thirst to be vindicated has grown more intense as his term draws to a close. Perhaps they want to save face after misunderstanding their country and its citizens so fundamentally for four years. Mr. Trump should stop fueling their destructive ideas, because the legitimacy of election results is the bedrock of American democracy.”