Bernie Sanders details Trump's efforts to steal election in urgent call to action

Vermont senator condemns president’s threats to democracy: ‘No matter how rich and powerful you may be, no matter how arrogant and narcissistic you may be … You are not going to destroy it’

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 24 September 2020 19:54 BST
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Bernie Sanders urges Americans to unite against Trump's election threats

Bernie Sanders has warned against Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election and urged Americans to “listen to and take seriously” his threats, including his recent refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

“This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” the Vermont senator and Democratic runner-up said in remarks on Thursday. “This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win. ”

The senator said it is “absolutely essential” for Republicans, Democrats and others to combat the president’s threats “to keep faith with the American ideals we hold so dear and with the sacrifices that so many made in order to protect our democracy.”

During a White House briefing on Wednesday, the president said “we’re going to have to see what happens” before he can assure Americans that he will commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

“We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly,” the president said from the White House. “There will be a continuation.”

Senator Sanders and Chuck Schumer have urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to initiate a bipartisan committee to assure Americans that voting rights will be protected

The senators told Senator McConnell to hear testimony from state and local officials and election experts to “reassure the American people that the election will go smoothly and reliably.”

"Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the integrity of our elections,” the senators said in a statement. “Sadly, there are some who are systematically undermining public confidence in the voting process, and irresponsibly fanning suspicions and conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of election results.”

The committee would "hold hearings about what is being done around the country to make certain that our public institutions are prepared to conduct a smooth and reliable election which will be free from voter suppression and intimidation, that every vote will be counted and that there will be confidence in the ultimate outcome.”

In remarks from Washington DC on Thursday, Senator Sanders said it is “absolutely imperative” that voter turnout be the largest in US history and suggested voters “vote as early as possible” before Election Day on 3 November.

“A landslide victory for Biden will make it virtually impossible for Trump to deny the results and is our best means for defending democracy," he said.

The senator also accused the president of relying on his wealth and family’s positions of power to avoid taxes, defraud lenders and dodge the military draft while amassing millions of dollars in the White House.

“I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you can buy politicians and get hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare for your real estate empire,” he said. “No matter how rich and powerful you may be, no matter how arrogant and narcissistic you may be, no matter how much you think you can get anything you want, let me make this clear to Donald Trump: Too many people have fought and died to defend American democracy.  You are not going to destroy it.  The American people will not allow that to happen.”

His sharp rebuke on 24 September follows a series of remarks from the president – amid a pandemic, chaos at the US Postal Service and a renewed battle over the future of the US Supreme Court – that have prompted election analysts and legal scholars to brace for worst-case scenarios, aggravated by threats to deploy active-duty military into American streets, falsely accusing vote-by-mail efforts of enabling widespread voter fraud, and encouraging supporters to menace voters at the polls.

The senator depicted one scenario in which the president prematurely declared victory as results from in-person votes at the polls – historically counted within hours after they’ve closed – show a Trump lead in battleground states, while mail-in votes are declared invalid by GOP allies and his judicial appointees and electors defend him.

With the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaving a vacancy on the nation’s high court, the president and Republican senators have vowed to quickly approve a replacement “who may very well cast a vote in a case that will determine the outcome of this election," Senator Sanders said.

“He is doing that at a time when early voting has already begun and millions of ballots will have already been cast.”

The senator also urged state election officials to begin processing mail-in ballots as soon as they get them and told news outlets to begin preparing Americans for the realities of a delayed result.

He also demanded social media platforms “get their act together" to prevent the spread of disinformation and online abuse.

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