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Trump will not commit to accepting vote result

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Inked: A police officer is assisted after being injured during an attempt to detain a protester smearing paint on the Black Lives Matter mural outside of Trump Tower in New York. Photo: Reuters

Inked: A police officer is assisted after being injured during an attempt to detain a protester smearing paint on the Black Lives Matter mural outside of Trump Tower in New York. Photo: Reuters

Inked: A police officer is assisted after being injured during an attempt to detain a protester smearing paint on the Black Lives Matter mural outside of Trump Tower in New York. Photo: Reuters

President Donald Trump is refusing to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote, as he scoffs at polls showing him lagging behind Democrat Joe Biden.

Mr Trump says it's too early to make such an ironclad guarantee.

"I have to see. Look... I have to see," he told moderator Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging interview on 'Fox News Sunday'.

"No, I'm not going to just say yes. I'm not going to say no, and I didn't last time either."

The Biden campaign responded: "The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House."

Mr Trump also hammered the Pentagon brass for favouring renaming bases that honour Confederate military leaders - a drive for change spurred by the national debate about race after George Floyd's death.

"I don't care what the military says," Mr Trump said.

The president described the nation's top infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, as a "little bit of an alarmist" about the coronavirus pandemic, and Mr Trump stuck to what he had said back in February - that the virus is "going to disappear". On Fox, he said, "I'll be right eventually."

It is remarkable that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy's electoral process.

But for Mr Trump, it comes from his insurgent playbook of four years ago, when in the closing stages of his race against Hillary Clinton, he said he would not commit to honouring the election results if the Democrat won.

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Pressed during an October 2016 debate about whether he would abide by the voters' will, Mr Trump responded that he would "keep you in suspense".

He has seen his presidential popularity erode over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and in the aftermath of nationwide protests centred on racial injustice that erupted after Mr Floyd's death in Minneapolis nearly two months ago.

Mr Trump contends that a series of polls that show his popularity eroding and Mr Biden holding an advantage are faulty. He believes Republican voters are underrepresented in such surveys.

"First of all, I'm not losing, because those are fake polls," Mr Trump said in the taped interview, which aired yesterday. "They were fake in 2016 and now they're even more fake. The polls were much worse in 2016."

Mr Trump was frequently combative with Mr Wallace in defending his administration's response to the pandemic, weighing in on the Black Lives Matter movement and trying to portray Mr Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, as lacking the mental prowess to serve as president.

Among the issues discussed was the push for wholesale changes in policing that has swept across the nation.

Mr Trump said he could understand why Black Americans are upset about how police use force disproportionately against them.

"Of course I do. Of course I do," the president said, adding his usual refrain that "whites are also killed, too".

He said he was "not offended either by Black Lives Matter" but at the same time defended the Confederate flag, a symbol of the racism of the past, and said those who "proudly have their Confederate flags, they're not talking about racism".

"They love their flag, it represents the south, they like the south. That's freedom of speech. And you know, the whole thing with 'cancel culture,' we can't cancel our whole history. We can't forget that the north and the south fought.

"We have to remember that, otherwise we'll end up fighting again. You can't just cancel all," Mr Trump said.

Mr Wallace challenged Mr Trump on some of his claims and called out the president at time, such as when Mr Trump falsely asserted that "Biden wants to defund the police".

The former vice president has not joined with activists rallying behind that banner.


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