Pelosi Worried Trump Won’t Accept Defeat in 2020

Nancy Pelosi shakes hands with Donald Trump on the day of his inauguration. / Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said in a new interview she fears President Donald Trump won't accept an electoral defeat in 2020 unless it's overwhelming.

In a discussion with the New York Times about her political strategizing heading into the presidential election, Pelosi said she worried that unless Democrats win a "big" victory against Trump, he will challenge its legitimacy.

"We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that," she said.

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Pelosi's fear about Republicans not respecting an election result comes as Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton has been re-litigated by Democrats and the media almost daily since the stunning result nearly 29 months ago. Clinton and her allies have frequently blamed Russian election interference, among other factors, for her defeat in 2016, and the Robert Mueller investigation into the matter has dominated news coverage for nearly all of Trump's presidency.

Pelosi has resisted calls for impeaching Trump by some of the far-left members of her caucus, calling on them to be "coldblooded" and focus on the "simple message" that carried them back into the House majority in 2018: Health care, paychecks, and clean government.

She told the Times she worried Trump wouldn't "respect" the 2018 result either unless Democrats won a lopsided amount of House seats:

"If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he’s not going to respect the election," said Ms. Pelosi, recalling her thinking in the run-up to the 2018 elections.

"He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races; he would say you can’t seat these people," she added. "We had to win. Imagine if we hadn’t won — oh, don’t even imagine. So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach."

Republicans did, however, pick up two Senate seats with a favorable map in 2018 and retained the majority in the upper chamber.