If Hillary Clinton wins by a wide margin tonight, Donald Trump will concede. Or so says Donald Trump Jr.
For months, the Republican nominee encouraged his supporters to mistrust Tuesday night’s results, suggesting the election could be rigged, possibly as part of an intricate scheme involving African-American voters in Philadelphia, Latinos in Nevada, a cabal of international bankers, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the cast of Saturday Night Live, the FBI, and a dozen women pretending to be victims of his sexual crimes — all working in tandem to execute Crooked Hillary’s plan to end U.S. sovereignty.
Then, at the final presidential debate, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace gave Trump an opportunity to save that red meat for the base and pose as a reasonable politician. But for once, the GOP nominee didn’t take the bait. Instead of assuring Wallace and America that he would concede the election if he lost, Trump promised to keep the nation “in suspense.”
So, on Tuesday morning, MSNBC’s Willie Geist gave Donald Trump Jr. an opportunity to repent for his father’s sin.
“Can you say here right now, if Hillary Clinton is a clear-cut winner tonight in the Electoral College, your father will concede the election in a speech tonight?” Geist asked.
“Of course,” Donald Trump Jr. insisted. “All we’ve wanted is a fair fight.”
But Trump Jr. proceeded to explain why his father might be justified in saying the 2016 election was an unfair fight. Specifically, Trump Jr. cited conservative provocateur James O’Keefe’s latest discredited videos, which purport to show Democrats scheming to bus voters across state lines (GOP voter-suppression efforts, inadequate measures to accommodate participation among the disabled, and the fact that we hold elections on a workday did not make his list).
“You know, we just want a fair system,” he said. “Some stuff is going on. I don’t know if it’s enough to move elections. But we’ve seen states, you know, a few thousand votes can make a difference.”
“If he loses, he will concede tonight?” Geist asked, again.
“If he loses and it’s legit and fair and there’s not obvious stuff out there,” Trump Jr. replied, “without question, yes.”
Ultimately, whether Trump concedes in the event of a Clinton victory may prove less significant than how he chooses to frame that concession. New York’s Gabriel Sherman reports that the Trump team itself isn’t sure how he will proceed.
While the GOP standard-bearer has spoken a bit less about voter fraud recently, his closing argument centers on Clinton’s corruption and the rigged system that enables it. And it’s difficult to see how that argument leaves room for anything but the most perfunctory endorsement of the election’s legitimacy.
“The FBI, the director, was obviously under tremendous pressure,” Trump told supporters Monday. “She still deleted them after getting a subpoena from Congress. I mean, that’s a crime! What happened? That’s a crime! You don’t even need the new stuff. She shouldn’t be allowed to run.”
On Tuesday morning, he declared that many of the polls were “purposely wrong,” implying that his support was underestimated in a plot to drain enthusiasm for his candidacy.
Ultimately, should he lose, it may not matter what Trump says. The damage is done, regardless. For a year and half, he’s inundated his supporters with apocalyptic rhetoric about how his loss would both threaten every right they hold dear and show that those rights can no longer be secured through democratic means — because his defeat would prove that their “democracy” is a sham.
If Trump grumbles a few congratulations Tuesday night, for the old brand’s sake, it will be one of the few times that his base sees through his insincerity.