Schumer Floor Remarks: The Gravest Threat To American Democracy Right Now Is President Trump

September 24, 2020

Washington, D.C.— Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Trump suggesting yesterday that he will not accept the results of the election and that there may not be a peaceful transition of power. Senator Schumer responded warning that President Trump is the gravest threat to American democracy. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Our adversaries sow disinformation in our society and seek to influence our elections. Vladimir Putin will stop at nothing to diminish Western democracies. A resurgent China wants to take America’s place on the world stage.

But the gravest threat to Democracy right now does not come from any foreign capital, it comes from our own. The gravest threat to Democracy in America is President Donald Trump.

Yesterday, at a news conference, President Trump refused to commit to the peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election in 41 days.

Let me repeat that. Yesterday, at a news conference, President Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election in 41 days.

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” he said. “I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Pressed further, the president said: “get rid of the ballots…and there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”

“Get rid of the ballots…and there won’t be a transfer. There’ll be a continuation.”

All his words. Get rid of voting. Get rid of the ballots. Just let him stay in power for whatever illicit way he chooses to do so.

That’s what he’s saying.

Now, everyone from school children to the most senior among us know that the peaceful transfer of power is one of democracy’s core attributes. There is no democracy without it. And like the rule of law, the separation of powers, checks and balances – everything we have ever learned that is great and noble about our system of government – President Trump has sullied, diminished, and now he threatens to actually dismantle.

The gravest threat to American democracy right now is President Donald Trump.

The president issued similar threats in the run-up to the 2016 election and he’s doing it again now. If I win, he proposed, then the election is legitimate, argues the President, but if I lose, it’s rigged.

That's what he's saying now. Again, if I win, the election's legitimate, but if I lose, it's rigged. Oh and by the way – I may just stay in office and not count the ballots. Unbelievable.

The gravest threat to American democracy right now is President Trump.

And save for a few, the Republican majority here in the Senate practically brushes it by. They don’t know the full context. The president says crazy things! Maybe he was joking, they say. And they’re willing to continue ramming a Supreme Court Justice through who the president said was needed “before the election…because [the election] will be before the United States Supreme Court.”

Where are our Republican colleagues?

This is not a partisan issue. Democracy is at stake and every constituent from every corner of the land, regardless of party or ideology, should be asking their Republican Senators to speak out and demand that Donald Trump not be allowed to do what he says he's going to do and say they will join all of America in standing in the way if he tries.

The most innocent interpretation of the president’s comments is he’s just trying to get people not to vote.

‘Mail in voting is rigged! I’m gonna stay anyway.’ He cries. ‘12 more years!’ They chant at his rallies.

All to erode Americans’ faith in the election and discourage Americans from voting.

It doesn’t matter how false, it doesn't matter how un-democratic, it doesn’t matter how corrosive it is to our democracy. The president doesn't care. It's his own ego, and nothing else. The president says it if he thinks it will help him win. And that’s the most innocent interpretation!

If you take the president at his word—he wants to throw out ballots, refuse the peaceful transfer of power, and rush through a Supreme Court Justice to ensure it could rule in his favor if the election is contested. That's him in his word.

According to a new article in the Atlantic magazine, some Republicans are actually considering a scheme to override the will of the voters in certain states.  Under this nefarious scheme, if the president loses a state controlled by Republicans, they would ignore the result, they would ignore what the voters asked for, and send a rival slate of electors to Washington instead, deliberately provoking a constitutional crisis.

Every American should read this article. And I ask unanimous consent that it be placed in the Record.

[Presiding Officer:  Without objection.]

If you read these facts in a story about Belarus or Hungary, you might not bat an eye.

But this is America. This is America.

And here in America, our elections are sacrosanct.

The peaceful transfer of power is our lifeblood.

The rule of law is the very foundation of our society. These currents run deep in our veins and are far stronger than the flimsy authoritarianism of President Trump.

President Trump: You are not a dictator, and America will not permit you to be one. We will not permit you to be one.

This November, we will have an election. The votes will be counted. It may take a little longer than usual because so many people will vote by mail because of COVID. But the votes will be counted. And there are numerous lawsuits making sure it happens and those lawsuits are succeeding. And the results of the election must be accepted. The peaceful transfer of power must follow.

Otherwise we will lose our Democracy.

At this perilous moment, every Republican in this chamber should stand up and say that a president who isn’t entirely sure if he’ll commit to a peaceful transfer of power isn’t a president at all. Stand up and say he’s wrong, and that you don’t want to live in a country where he is right.

Pledge to uphold the pillars of our country. If Republicans stand up and say this is wrong, that may—may—be able to sway this president or his followers from repeating these attacks.

And there is something every citizen can do, particularly those that are alarmed or discouraged by what President Trump said this week: vote.

The president cannot deny your right to vote.

The answer to these naked threats to our democracy is more democracy.

Vote.

Don’t let President Trump intimidate or discourage you.

Vote.

Vote like our democracy is on the line, because it is.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

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