Intelligence Committee senators are concerned that a loss for President Donald Trump may lead to a constitutional crisis in the lame-duck months following the election. If that happens, senators think a foreign adversary could take advantage of the moment to cause further unrest in the United States.
Speaking to Axios, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) said that it's possible such adversaries could cause questions about the authenticity of the vote.
"This is a really dangerous moment; the only antidote is a landslide," King said. "They don't have to change votes. They don't have to wipe registration rolls. All they have to do is raise doubt. All they have to do is raise enough questions so that those who are prepared to call the election fraudulent or unfair or rigged have some evidence upon which to make that claim."
A Republican committee aide who wanted to remain nameless told Axios that doubts would come from viral Twitter and Facebook.
"By the time we realize that it's fake, it's way too late. Half of our country will be locked into believing one thing, and half the country is locked into believing another, and then one side will think that the other party stole the election," the aide said.
Already Trump is speculating that there are hijinks around the election because officials are counting all of the ballots regardless of how long it takes to certify the election.
"It's a kind of echo of 2016 ... where the president and his campaign were doing things that they knew were parallel to what the Russians were doing," King explained. "I don't think the president is saying to himself, 'I'm going to repeat what Russia is trying to do.' I think he's repeating what he thinks, which is, if I lose it's rigged. But it happens to be also the message of the Iranians and the Russians."
Trump told the press on Sunday that the second the polls close, he's sending in his lawyers.
"What do you do when the leader of your party is the person providing the fuel that could conceivably be used by foreign actors?" a Republican committee aide asked.