Top Democrat Argues Trump's 'Not Planning to Give Up the Office' as President Slams Voting Bill
South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn warned in multiple interviews over the weekend that he believed Donald Trump was "not planning to give up the office" — as the president continued to criticize mail-in voting and slammed Nevada for increasing voter access on Sunday after suggesting last week the November election should be delayed.
"I have been saying now for about three years that this president doesn't plan to have an election. He's not planning to give up the office," Clyburn, 80, told PBS on Friday, before speaking even more bluntly:
"He thinks that the American people will be duped by him, like the people of Germany was duped by Adolf Hitler."
Then, in a separate interview with CNN on Sunday, the top Democratic lawmaker went further in comparing Trump to dictators and autocrats who circumvented the law to help them remain in power.
"I feel very strongly that Trump is Mussolini, Putin and Hitler," Clyburn said, accusing the president of "taking on strong-arm tactics" to gain what he wants politically.
"I don’t think he plans to leave the White House," Clyburn continued. "He doesn’t plan to have fair and unfettered elections. I believe that he plans to install himself in some kind of emergency way to hold onto the office. And that's why the American people had better wake up."
Trump, 74, has continuously posted misinformation on social media about mail-in voting — also known as absentee voting — which allows voters to cast their ballots remotely ahead of the election on Nov. 3.
Election experts have told PEOPLE that due to the health risks from the novel coronavirus pandemic, they're expecting mail-in voting will be widely used ahead of the election.
By contrast, the president has repeatedly claimed without evidence that such ballots would be fraudulent and inaccurate and last week he tweeted that the election should possibly be delayed rather than be largely conducted by mail.
(He has no legal authority to move the election date; five states already use universal mail ballots, including Colorado, Hawaii and Utah.)
After Nevada lawmakers passed a bill late Sunday night that would allow the state to automatically send out mail-in ballots to all voters, Trump complained in a tweet Monday morning that the bill's passing was “an illegal late night coup."
He later softened his stance on voting by mail — though only as it related to Florida, a key swing state where polling shows he is in a tight race.
"In Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True ... so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!" he tweeted on Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports that Nevada's new bill would add the state to a list of seven others, including California and Vermont, already set to automatically mail out ballots to registered voters amid the pandemic.
Republicans and Democrats largely ignored Trump's tweet about an election delay.
"Never in the history of the country, through wars and depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we'll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of several Trump allies who immediately shot down the president's tweet.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's likely opponent in the upcoming election, told late-night host Trevor Noah in June that his "single greatest concern" was that Trump would attempt to "steal" the election by limiting voting access and continuing to spread false claims about the voting process.
As Trump did in 2016, he has also suggested he may not personally stand by the election results.
"I'm not a good loser," he told Fox News' Chris Wallace in July, adding: "I don't like to lose."