On the eve of an election in which the president of the United States is signaling he’ll do anything to win, including promoting violence and cheating, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says she’s been methodically preparing for months for Donald Trump to try to steal the election and is confident Americans’ votes will be be fairly counted in the end.
“We’re ready for it all,” Pelosi told HuffPost in a Friday interview. “I would just like him to know it ain’t going to happen for him at the end of the day.”
Trump, who has been consistently behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the polls, has been trying to undermine people’s faith in the election since long before Election Day. He’s falsely claimed mail-in ballots lead to widespread fraud. His campaign is engaging in voter intimidation at polling locations. He refuses to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses. He’s openly encouraged people carrying out political violence on his behalf. He’s vowing legal challenges to prevent states from counting ballots after Election Day.
Trump also plans to declare victory on Tuesday night if the results show him ahead, even if millions of ballots have yet to be counted, according to Axios.
Pelosi, who is in a powerful position to affect the election outcome if Trump tries to cut the vote count short, said she doesn’t expect the race to come down to an incredible, once-in-a-century scenario involving Congress calling the winner. But she’s ready to go down that road if necessary. For months, she’s been working closely with a team of lawyers, constitutional experts and institutions to game out responses to Trump’s potential chaos before, during and after the election.
That team includes attorneys with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Republicans and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
“We have been prepared for the worst for a long time because what we have seen is the worst on the part of this president in terms of his disrespect for the Constitution, his disregard of free will of the people and his stooping to any level for his own reelection,” said Pelosi. “We have tremendous intellectual, political and financial resources at our disposal. ... We have our lawyers poised to move on a dime on Election Day or evening, as we see a problem.”
She said the fact that Trump and his campaign have essentially broadcast their plans to engage in foul play has helped her team to prepare to stop it.
“Go to Election Day and the intimidation that they have advertised that they’re going to engage in,” said Pelosi. “We knew that it was in their playbook ... to scare people off from voting. So again, when they made it known, they made it easier for us to counter.”
And if the president tries to declare victory on election night without millions of people’s votes being counted, Pelosi said she’s ready for that, too.
“This is not child’s play,” she said. “It is unconstitutional.”
That does seem to be Trump’s plan, though. In a disturbing statement released Monday, Trump’s deputy campaign manager Justin Clark warned that Democrats are the ones planning to delegitimize Election Day results because they want everyone’s ballots to be counted on and after Election Day ― setting the stage for Trump to declare himself the winner on election night and disregard millions of early and absentee ballots that could take days if not weeks to fully count.
Biden’s campaign operatives are “imagining postal delays or falsely claiming that mail-in ballots that have simply not been returned should be considered legitimate votes that need to be counted,” Clark said. “None of this will be true, but it will be held up as proof that President Trump’s victory is a so-called ‘Red Mirage.’ No one should fall for it.”
For now, Pelosi said she’s focused on encouraging everyone to vote. The bigger the vote, she said, the more confident people can feel about it being an honest count. As of Monday morning, more than 95 million Americans had already voted, setting the stage for record participation.
“Don’t panic. Be confident. We will make sure that we will have a fair count,″ Pelosi said, asked if she has a message for people anxious about Trump trying to cheat his way to victory. “The antidote to his poison, whether it’s policy or politics or stealing an election ― the antidote to his poison is to vote.”