Saturday 25 February 2017

Trump creates new storm with claims election is 'rigged'

Jill Colvin

Donald Trump appears on stage to light a ceremonial diya lamp before he speaks at a Bollywood-themed charity concert put on by the Republican Hindu Coalition in Edison, New Jersey. Photo: Reuters
Donald Trump appears on stage to light a ceremonial diya lamp before he speaks at a Bollywood-themed charity concert put on by the Republican Hindu Coalition in Edison, New Jersey. Photo: Reuters

Donald Trump has insisted again that the presidential race is being "rigged" against him at voting locations. He questioned the November 8 election's fairness just hours after his running mate Mike Pence said Republicans would accept the outcome.

"The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary (Clinton) - but also at many polling places - SAD," Trump wrote on Twitter.

Flush with money: Clinton. GETTY
Flush with money: Clinton. GETTY

Earlier in the day, Mr Pence had repeated the claim that the media was biased against the Trump campaign but he agreed to accept the result, no matter how it went.

"We'll respect the outcome of this election," he said, speaking on NBC's 'Meet the Press'.

"Donald Trump said in the first debate that we'll respect the will of the American people in this election. The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of American history."

Asked whether he believed the contest could be subject to voter fraud or whether talking about a rigged election could "undermine our democracy", Mr Pence said the media was favouring their rivals.

Mr Trump also went on the attack against venerable comedy show 'Saturday Night Live'. He described an SNL skit mocking him this week as a "hit job". Trump went on to write that it's "time to retire" the show, calling it "boring and unfunny" and adding that Alec Baldwin's portrayal of him "stinks".

Saturday's show featured a send-up of the second presidential debate held last week at Washington University in St Louis.

A new poll yesterday suggested that Clinton was leading Mr Trump by as much as 11 points.

On Saturday, Mr Trump launched another extraordinary outburst, suggesting that Clinton was on drugs during their last debate and vowing to jail her if elected.

Mr Trump accused the media and the Clinton campaign of conspiring against him to undermine a free and fair election, claiming: "The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president."

Mr Trump was referring to several women who have come forward in recent days to say that the Republican nominee had groped or sexually assaulted them. He has denied the claims, calling the women liars.

Mr Trump also took to Twitter to warn: "100pc fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter. FIX!"

He added: "Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead, she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election."

In a country with a history of peaceful political transition, his challenge to the US election's legitimacy was a striking rupture of faith in American democracy.

Mr Trump has repeatedly claimed, without offering evidence, that election fraud is a serious problem and encouraged his supporters to "go and watch" polling places in certain areas to make sure things are "on the up and up".

A prominent Trump supporter who spoke at the Republican convention last summer, Sheriff David Clarke Jr of Wisconsin's Milwaukee County, tweeted: "It's incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time."

Sheriff Clarke, an elected Democrat, illustrated his tweet with a photo showing angry people with clubs and torches.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose decision not to campaign for Mr Trump angered the party nominee, made clear that he does not share the candidate's concern over the election's legitimacy.

A spokeswoman for Mr Ryan said: "Our democracy relies on confidence in election results and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity."

Campaign money is also becoming tight for Mr Trump. He began this month with $75m in his campaign and joint party accounts. That is half of what the Clinton team said it has on hand.

Mr Trump also suggested Mrs Clinton had been on drugs during the last debate and challenged his rival to a drug test before their final televised tussle on Wednesday.

Instead of spending the weekend preparing, he claimed of his opponent: "I think she's actually getting pumped up, you want to know the truth.

"I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate, 'cause I don't know what's going on with her.

"But at the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning. And at the end, it was like... she could barely even reach her car."

Mr Trump offered no evidence to support his claim.

Irish Independent

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