Pelosi worries Trump won't give up power if he loses by small margin

Speaker warns party not to pursue impeachment

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on May 2, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is concerned President Donald Trump will not voluntarily step down unless Democrats win by a "big" enough margin in 2020 that he doesn't contest the results, the New York Times reported Saturday.

In an interview with the newspaper this week, the Democratic leader expressed worry over a scenario where Trump would not accept the election results if he were to lose re-election by a slim margin, the Times reported.

"We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that," Pelosi told the newspaper Wednesday.

Pelosi told the Times she had worried that Trump would "poison the public mind" and "challenge each of the races" if Democrats didn't win by an overwhelming majority in 2018.

Democrats picked up a net gain of 40 seats in the 2018 midterms — the largest Democratic House gain since 1974.

"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," Pelosi said to the Times.

"How hilariously ironic that it's the Democrats who refuse to accept the results of a free and fair Presidential election in 2016, refuse to accept the clear results of a nearly 400 page report that showed no collusion and no obstruction, but now, they have the audacity to question the President 'accepting results?' -- give me a break," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement provided to CNN.

Trump had warned against "illegal voting" during the 2018 midterm elections, despite a lack of evidence. During the 2016 presidential election, Trump falsely claimed that "millions of people" voted illegally for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, costing him the popular vote.

In her interview with the Times, Pelosi also warned her party not pursue impeachment against Trump or to alienate voters by moving too far to the left, the Times noted.

"Own the center left, own the mainstream," she told the Times.

Pelosi told her caucus last month not to focus on impeachment, as Democrats have remained divided over the issue.

In a CNN poll after the Mueller report was released, 37% said Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 59% said they do not feel that way.

This story has been updated.

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