WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan pushed back against Donald Trump’s claims that the election is being rigged through a spokesperson on Saturday.
“Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” Ryan’s press secretary AshLee Strong said in an email to BuzzFeed News when asked about Trump’s claims.
Over the course of the chaotic past week since the explosive tape of Trump bragging about sexual assault was leaked, Trump has grown ever more conspiratorial, saying repeatedly in campaign appearances that the election is being “rigged” as part of a globalist conspiracy against him aimed at helping Hillary Clinton.
“This election is being rigged by the media pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies, in order to elect Crooked Hillary!” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
Trump’s surrogates are beginning to repeat this line as well, with Sen. Jeff Sessions — a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — telling a crowd in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, “They are attempting to rig this election."
Trump's calling the legitimacy of the election into question could have real consequences. Part of the peaceful transition of power that characterizes American elections is the fact that the losers concede that they lost and accept that the voters chose the other candidate. Trump’s signaling that he might not do this has set off alarm bells among many observers.
Trump has also encouraged his supporters to monitor polling places to look for incidents of voter fraud. Some of his supporters told the Boston Globe this week that they intend to do just that, with one making explicit that he will target minorities.
The Republican National Committee has so far not said anything about Trump’s claims of a rigged election. RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.
Democratic National Committee interim chair Donna Brazile on Saturday issued a statement, saying "Trump is trying to convince voters that their votes don’t count by telling them that the system is rigged," adding, "He’s wrong."
“Each day, we’ve seen Trump try to cope with fact that his past has caught up with him by distracting his audiences with empty conspiracy theories," the statement read. "Our Democratic candidates are encouraging people to vote. We’re working every day to get more people registered. And we believe that we will solve our nation’s problems when more people make their voices heard.”
A spokesman for the Trump campaign, when asked if Trump will concede the election if he loses, also did not respond.