The idea that President Donald Trump could refuse to leave the White House if he loses the election was a serious enough concern that White House staffers discussed the possibility several weeks ago, a former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence told CNN Friday.
Given what Olivia Troye has seen of the president, she doesn’t find it surprising that Trump has been emphasizing the possibility that he may not step down if he loses in November, she told Wolf Blitzer.
Troye left the administration in August after working on the coronavirus task force and serving as an adviser to Pence on counterterrorism and homeland security.
Just because Trump’s behavior might be predictable doesn’t make it any less worrisome, Troye said.
“It’s frightening to me, because, to be honest, during my tenure at the White House, I’ve had conversations behind closed doors with White House staffers and other government officials — including people in the intelligence community — where we’ve actually discussed ‘what if,’” she said. “What if he loses and refuses to leave, or ... What if his plan is four more years of Donald Trump should he win, and will he even leave after that?”
Even threats Trump later shrugs off or claims were jokes should be taken seriously, Troye warned.
“The president when he’s joking, if he says that he’s joking, he’s telling you a half truth,” Troye said. “And in there is something fairly frightening and scary” in that.
Though Trump has joked about staying in the White House for more than the maximum two terms in the past, his recent warnings come at a critical time.
Asked at a press conference Wednesday if he would “commit to a peaceful transferal of power” if he lost the November election, Trump said: “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.”
“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a peaceful ... there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation,” he added. Trump was apparently referring to mail-in ballots, which he has repeatedly claimed are rigged, without evidence. But it sounded as if he was encouraging one type of voting to be scrapped.
Troye said she left the administration in disgust because of the abysmal job the administration was doing to battle COVID-19.
“If the president had taken this virus seriously, or if he had actually made an effort to tell how serious it was, he would have slowed the virus spread, he would have saved lives,” Troye said in an ad recently released by Republican Voters Against Trump.
Related: President Trump in 2020