Bernie Sanders warns of 'nightmare scenario' if Trump refuses election results

Bernie Sanders warns of 'nightmare scenario' if Trump refuses election results
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Briahna Joy Gray: Voters are 'torn' over Ohio special election Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength MORE (I-Vt.) this week warned of what he called a "nightmare" scenario in which President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE loses in November but refuses to accept the results and casts doubt on the legitimacy of the contest.

“We are living in an unprecedented and dangerous moment — extremely dangerous moment — in American history,” Sanders told The New York Times while discussing a speech he will give in Washington on Thursday. “And what this speech is going to be about is whether or not the United States of America will continue to be a democracy and a nation ruled by law and our Constitution.”

The progressive senator who lost to Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response MORE in a bid for the party's nomination said he is confident that Biden will defeat Trump but is less sure Trump will concede should he come up short of the votes needed to win reelection.

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"My main focus is to prevent Donald Trump from staying in office if he loses the election, to prevent him from delegitimizing the election results, to make sure that every vote cast is counted, to make sure that voters are not intimidated," he said.

Sanders is kicking off this week an aggressive get out the vote campaign on behalf of Biden, who he said needs to close a gap with “nontraditional voters" like young people and Latinos in states like Florida.

A new poll released Monday showed Biden beating out Trump with young voters under the age of 30, with 60 percent saying they'd back the Democratic nominee over the president.

Trump has closed the once sizable gap between him and Biden in Florida, however — a state with one of the country's largest Hispanic American populations. 

Sanders said he has spoken with several election experts and Democratic strategists in Washington about how the party should handle a series of events that could lead to the incumbent refusing to concede. 

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“If you are starting from zero on election night, and you’ve got hundreds of thousands or millions of absentee ballots, how long is that going to take you to count?” Sanders said. “It will take a very long time. And that will allow the fomenting of conspiracy theories and so-called fraud and everything else.”

Trump has cast doubt on the integrity of vote-by-mail systems, claiming without evidence that such a process would be wrought with widespread fraud. 

"The fraud and abuse will be an embarrassment to our Country," Trump tweeted last month. 

Sanders said he is lobbying his colleagues in the Senate to prepare for hearings in the Republican-controlled upper chamber with secretaries of state and law enforcement and election officials if such a scene plays out. 

“The American people have got to be prepared for this,” Sanders said. “It is absolutely essential that they are.”