Concerned it was possible that Donald Trump might not accept the election results in 2016 if his rival, Hillary Clinton, came out on top, the Obama White House discussed how to handle the situation in order to avoid a national crisis, according to New York Magazine.
> They had cause to be worried. At that time, Trump had openly speculated that the election might be “rigged.” During his final debate with Clinton on October 19, he said that his opponent “should never have been allowed to run” and declined to answer the question of whether he would concede. “I’ll keep you in suspense,” the Republican nominee said.
> “It wasn’t a hypothetical,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s senior aide and speechwriter, told Intelligencer. “Trump was already saying it on the campaign trail.”
The plan, as discussed in interviews with Rhodes and Jen Psaki, Obama’s communications director, involved calling upon congressional Republicans, former presidents and former Cabinet-level officials — including Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — to validate the election result and hope to preempt a political crisis.
> In the event that Trump tried to dispute a Clinton victory, they would affirm the result as well as the conclusions reached by the U.S. intelligence community that Russian interference in the election sought to favor Trump, and not Clinton. Some Republicans were already aware of Russian interference from intelligence briefings given to leaders from both parties during the chaotic months before the election. “We wanted to handle the Russia information in a way that was as bipartisan as possible,” Rhodes said.
> Psaki said the plan was one of a larger set of “red-teaming” conversations to address how the White House should respond to postelection scenarios that did not have any historical precedent. “There was recognition that we had a Democratic president who was quite popular but also divisive for a portion of the population,” she said. “For them, just having him say the election was legitimate was not going to be enough. We didn’t spend a lot of time theorizing about the worst thing that could happen — this isn’t a science-fiction movie. It was more about the country being incredibly divided and Trump’s supporters being angry. Would there be protesting? I don’t want to say violence, because we didn’t talk about that as I recall.”
Trump’s ongoing rhetoric surrounding special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation causes concern a similar situation could arise if the president is faced with impeachment.
He has consistently referred to the investigation into potential collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives as a “hoax”.
> Psaki also said she had doubts that Trump would go quietly if he were to be impeached. “I don’t think there is any indication to suggest that if that’s where things headed, he would accept it,” she said. “He’s laying the groundwork for delegitimizing the process now — questioning our institutions, attacking their leadership. This is all fodder for his supporters to work with in the event that things go down a dark path for him.”