President Donald Trump on Wednesday refused to clearly guarantee a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the upcoming US election in November to Joe Biden.
"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump responded when asked at a White House press conference whether he is committed to the most basic tenet of democratic rule in the United States.
Trump, who is currently behind in the polls against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, then resumed his near daily complaint about the way the election is being organized.
Apparently referring to the increased use of mail-in ballots -- due to the coronavirus pandemic -- he said: "You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster."
Trump frequently claims that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to mass fraud and are being encouraged by Democrats to rig the election. However, there is no evidence that ballots sent through the postal service have ever led to significant fraud in US elections.
At the press conference, Trump seemed to suggest annulling what are expected to be the huge numbers of mailed-in ballots, saying that in such a scenario, he would remain in power.
"Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very peaceful -- there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation," he said.
Trump's latest insistence that there cannot be a fair presidential election on November 3 came as pressure mounts over his plan to put a new, right-leaning justice on the Supreme Court.
Trump is set to nominate a replacement on Saturday for the late liberal-leaning justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His Republican Party, which has a majority in the Senate, is then expected to quickly confirm the nominee.
If they succeed, the nine-justice court would then likely have a strongly pro-conservative bent for years to come.
Democrats are crying foul, saying that the process should wait until the results of the election are known, allowing the winner to shape the Supreme Court.
With Trump and the Republicans mounting a series of court challenges against the use of mail-in ballots, the chances of a contested election result are considered high.
On Wednesday, Trump said he thinks the election "will end up in the Supreme Court."
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)