Political News

Trump challenges legitimacy of election

Posted 7:53 p.m. Saturday
Updated 7:54 p.m. Saturday

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

— A beleaguered Donald Trump sought to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. presidential election on Saturday, pressing unsubstantiated claims the contest is rigged against him, vowing anew to jail Hillary Clinton if he's elected and throwing in a baseless insinuation his rival was on drugs in the last debate.

Not even the country's more than two centuries of peaceful transitions of political leadership were sacrosanct as Trump accused the media and the Clinton campaign of conspiring against him to undermine a free and fair election.

"The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president," he said, referring to the several women who have come forward in recent days to say that Trump had groped or sexually assaulted them. He has denied the claims, calling the women liars.

Earlier Saturday, Trump took to Twitter to warn that "100% fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter. FIX!"

"Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail," he added. "Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election."

In a country with a history of peaceful political transition, his challenge to the election's legitimacy — as a way to explain a loss in November, should that happen — was a striking rupture of faith in American democracy. Trump has repeatedly claimed without offering evidence that election fraud is a serious problem and encouraged his largely white supporters to "go and watch" polling places in certain areas to make sure things are "on the up and up."

Peter Kostruba, a Trump supporter who traveled to his Portsmouth rally from Barnet, Vermont, with his 10-year-old son, said he's not expecting riots to break out if Clinton wins, but he sees sharper divisions in the country.

"It definitely feels like the odds are stacked, whether it's the legal system or the voter system," Kostruba said. "I don't think you're going to see all of this group here arm themselves and mobilize, but, you know, we're probably not too many years away from that if things keep going the way we're going."

On a similar theme, a prominent Trump supporter who spoke at the GOP convention last summer, Sheriff David Clarke Jr. of Wisconsin's Milwaukee County, tweeted Saturday: "It's incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time." Clarke, an elected Democrat, illustrated his tweet with a photo showing angry people with clubs and torches.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose decision not to campaign for Trump angered the GOP nominee, made clear he does not share the candidate's concern about the election's legitimacy.

"Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity," said AshLee Strong, speaking for him.

It was not the first time Trump has raised the idea the election is unfairly tilted against him, but it has become a resurgent theme for the New York billionaire and many of his supporters in the past several days as he's slipped in preference polls and faced allegations of sexual misconduct.

As well, campaign money is tight, at least in comparison with his rival's resources, according to information that pre-dates the release of a 2005 video that showed him bragging about imposing himself on women.

Trump began this month with $75 million in his campaign and joint party accounts, he said Saturday in a statement. That's exactly half of what the Clinton team said it had on hand — a worrisome financial disadvantage for the Republican side.

There was trouble in Ohio, too, where Trump severed ties with the state's Republican Party chairman, Matt Borges, who had become openly critical of the nominee at times. That crack in unity comes in a critical battleground state, where Republican Gov. John Kasich is also not behind Trump.

Trump's tribulations and accusations overshadowed the release Saturday of yet more emails hacked from accounts of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, laying bare aspects of the campaign's internal deliberations.

The latest batch showed the campaign worrying whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren might endorse Bernie Sanders, wrestling with how to respond to revelations about her private email use, and lining up materials to respond to fresh accusations from Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Bill Clinton of raping her decades ago. He denied the rape accusation, which was never adjudicated by a criminal court.

Trump also suggested Saturday that Clinton had been on drugs during the last debate and challenged his rival to a drug test before the final debate Wednesday.

Instead of spending the weekend preparing, he said, "I think she's actually getting pumped up, you want to know the truth."

"I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate, 'cause I don't know what's going on with her," he said. "But at the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning. And at the end, it was like ... she could barely even reach her car."

Trump offered no evidence to support the bizarre claim. Nothing about Clinton's demeanor in the debate suggested she was under the influence.


Associated Press writers Julie Bykowicz and Josh Lederman contributed to this report from Washington.


This story has been updated to correct the name of Paul Ryan's spokeswoman, AshLee Strong.


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  • Buster Brown Oct 17, 6:48 a.m.
    user avatar

    Perhaps not as baseless of the AP wants to claim. There are approximately 36 officially recognized political parties in the US--but only two majors who in fact control the entire entire election process in all its aspects. Neither like Trump. The news media--nominally objective in their reporting are against Trump and are openly biased against him. Between the media and the political parties, it is logically possible to have the system rigged agailnst Trump. He is such a threat to the "establishment" and its comfortable but crooked ruling position they would do anything to prevent his winning..Just look how the Dems. rigged the system against Sanders..Still want to contend that it couldn't happen>?

  • Jahman Playaman Oct 17, 4:31 a.m.
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    The burning of the RNC office just doesn't seem to be all that it should.... This sounds all too reminiscent of the attack on the Riechstag (which was carried out by the Nazi party)..... I would not be surprised if trump supporters do this exact same thing in other battle ground states as an attempt to galvanize supports to vote for their losing candidate who is a complete psychopath.
    Everyone around him except himself knows the election is lost and all his statements and actions are acts of sheer desperation.

  • Ken Ackerman Oct 16, 9:33 a.m.
    user avatar

    I wonder...
    Perhaps Trump's goal is to get Hillary Clinton elected? Perhaps he keeps coming up with these silly accusations to detract from the leaked emails? Perhaps he never intended to win?

  • Amy Whaley Oct 16, 1:31 a.m.
    user avatar

    I think the leaked emails prove just how much the media is in the Clinton camp. They check with her and/or her staff before they print anything. Apparently she gets to review questions that are to be asked of her as well. Emails released by WikiLeaks show that Times reporter Mark Leibovich allowed the Clinton campaign to decide which quotations from Clinton that he could and couldn't use in his Times-published work. NYT/CNBC’s John Harwood advises the Clinton Campaign and gloats about provoking Trump at the debate. And then there is Donna Brazile (CNN) who forwarded questions to be asked at a town hall meeting. And there are others.... like the Boston Globe. The bias and propaganda in the media is disgusting. Hopefully Americans will learn to dig deeper to find truths because the media isn't going to provide it. I don't blame Trump for threatening the press.

    Also the emails of among party officials that showed coordinated efforts to help Clinton in the primaries. Probably is rigged

  • Charlie McDarris Oct 15, 11:25 p.m.
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    Susan Eaton, you have the only intelligent post I have read in weeks. Everyone else is too buried in their party position to consider, much less respect, anyone else's ideas - all of which are important to our form of government.

  • Susan Eaton Oct 15, 10:54 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Guess what? Your post is here. As it should be. I wholeheartedly disagree with pretty much your entire post. And yet I wholeheartedly support your expression here of your beliefs. If only we could all see and acknowledge that there is value in opinions that differ, even widely, from our own and that sometimes those other opinions could represent the opinion of a majority of Americans. Being a part of a potentially losing voting block doesn't equate to an election being "rigged". There is value in graciously accepting that defeat to a majority of other citizens, all fairly given equal opportunity to legitimately vote, can happen as an important element in maintaining our democracy and the freedoms for all on which this country was founded.

  • James Daniels Oct 15, 10:30 p.m.
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    All of you would do well to remember that a peaceful, orderly transition after elections is the normal course of events. You can not vote twice in North Carolina using the same name. I worked as a poll worker and know the system. Trump is a sore lose who would not be in this position if he learned how to keep his foot out of his mouth. I have voted since 1972 and have not found a perfect candidate for office. Just vote and let the results speak for themselves.

  • Sam Nada Oct 15, 9:11 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    I actually had a couple of points. One is Trump can't handle losing, particularly to a woman, and the only play he has left is to pretend there's some giant conspiracy to steal the election from him. It's the desperation spiral of a narcissistic fraud who can't see or accept his own failures.

    He won't release his tax returns because he obviously knows what he's hiding would be a stake through the heart of his campaign. Not only was he so incompetent as a business man that he lost a billion dollars in one year during a boom in the real estate market, but he then took advantage of welfare for the rich, has paid no taxes for nearly 2 decades, but also very likely it would reveal how beholding he is to Russia, and the fake charity that he's used as a personal piggy bank. He's made the calculation that whatever his returns would reveal is far worse that whatever we imagine. And yet there are still those who would actually trust him.

  • Jamie Aycock Oct 15, 9:02 p.m.
    user avatar

    I would love to express more here but I doubt they will green light my post due to the fact the media is just as corrupt as HRC is. I find it amazing how the Dems refuse to talk about or even try and refute all the things brought against them. And if they do they shrug it off as no big deal?? Really? The Dems are why we are where we are now. How people cannot see this is beyond me. Now in regards to both sides of the aisle, Reps and Dems are just as crooked not all but the majority. Wish we could stop the election and find 2 other people to vote for. I really don't want a lying, stealing, murdering HRC and I don't want a hot head who cant control his words. But in the end Trump would be the better choice. Hopefully they will allow this to post but I have my doubts.

  • Alfred Barnes Oct 15, 7:24 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Tax returns were already covered in the debate. No one is required to pay any more taxes than he's legally obligated to pay. What's your point? Oh, that's right, you don't have one.