During a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Saturday, President Trump issued one of the most alarming declarations he’s made about the upcoming election so far. During a long-winded speech, Trump told his crowd that he was counting on the federal courts — you know, the judiciary he’s appointed an overwhelming number of conservative judges to in just under 4 years — to ensure that a winner was declared on election night so that America wouldn’t have to wait until all the ballots are counted.
As usual, Vox journalist Aaron Rupar was quick with the video from the event:
“We’re gonna have a victory on November 3rd the likes of which you’ve never seen. Now we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so we can actually have an evening where we know who wins” — Trump 😳 pic.twitter.com/q5bfsJQb76
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 19, 2020
Trump clarified, just in case you didn’t catch that he wants to be ruled the winner based on whoever’s ahead on the night of the election, by saying “not where the votes are going to be counted a week later, two weeks later.”
In fact, this has been a fear among the electorate for some time. Three weeks ago, writer Eric Lutz of Vanity Fair nailed it right in the headline of his article, “Democrats Fear Trump May Declare Victory on Election Night — Before All The Votes Are Counted.” The theory behind this, of course, is the fact that because Trump’s Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, started intentionally delaying mail deliveries, mail-in ballots would be coming in well behind in-person voting, which many pundits expect to favor Trump, and thereby create the illusion that Trump had won without having an accurate picture of just what percentage of votes he would eventually get.
By involving the courts, Trump seems intent on having them simply declare him the winner legally, and invalidating any further counting past election night — exactly the scenario that Lutz described. His statement is a clear reference to states that have extended deadlines for the receipt of mail-in ballots, although each state that has extended them still requires them to be postmarked by Election Day, November 3rd. So it’s not as if the ballots would be invalid or anything.
Trump has finally said the quiet part out loud: That he plans to win no matter the method.