During the 2016 election, Trump playfully suggested he would not accept the results of the election if he was on the losing end. As I recount in my book Election Meltdown, Trump refused to promise to abide by the results if he lost to Hillary Clinton, relying on his claim of a rigged or stolen election.October 19, 2016 (Presidential Debate, Las Vegas, Nevada): Trump "refused to say he would accept the result of the presidential election if he loses ... raising the possibility of an extraordinary departure from principles that have underpinned American democracy for more than two centuries. "I will look at it at the time. What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense." Trump also claims the media and the Democratic Party are in a vast conspiracy and have "rigged" the election against him. (CNN)
October 20, 2016 (Rally in Delaware, Ohio): "Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make a major announcement today. I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election – if I win." [After a dramatic pause before "if I win", Trump pointed to the crowd and offered a big smile, making sure everyone got the punchline.]
March 3, 2018 (Private speech to Republican donors at Mar-a-Lago): "He's [China's President Xi Jinping] now president for life. President for life. No, he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."
April 5, 2018 (White House speech): "We've cut more regulations in a year and a quarter than any administration, whether it's four years, eight years or, in one case, 16 years. Should we go back to 16 years? Congressman, can we have that extended? The last time I jokingly said that, the papers started saying 'he's got despotic tendencies!' No, I'm not looking to do it, unless you want to do it."
May 10, 2018 (Rally in Elkhart, Indiana): "The new embassy – I said 'When is it going to be open?' They said, 'Anywhere from 5 to 10 years.' So I said 'Unless they give me an extension for the presidency,' which I don't think the fake news media would be too happy about. Well, hey. Wait, wait, wait, wait, actually, they would be happy, because when I'm not here, their ratings are going to sink. So they'll probably be very happy." [Video: 67:29-68:15]
April 18, 2019 (Wounded Warrior Project Event, White House): "Well, this is really beautiful. This will find a permanent place, at least for six years, in the Oval Office. Is that okay? . . . I was going to joke, 'General, and say at least for 10 or 14 years, but we would cause bedlam if I said that, so we'll say six.'"
May 4, 2019 (Retweet of Jerry Falwell Jr.'s tweet): "I now support reparations – Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup"
May 8, 2019 (Rally in Panama City Beach, Florida): "In 6 years, they'll all be out of business . . . Now if we want to drive them crazy, I'll say in 10 years, they'll go crazy. 'See, he's a despot! He's a despot!' Well, 10 or 14, let's see, whatever we like. Watch, it will be headlines tomorrow. 'Donald Trump wants to break Constitution.'"
May 20, 2019 (Rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania): "I never want to be called a loser. Remember this, we all together – we, I, we – ran one time and we're 1-0, but it was for the big one. Now we're going to have a second time and we're gonna have another one. And then we'll drive them crazy. Ready? And maybe if we really like it a lot and if things keep going like they're going, we'll go and we'll do what we have to do – we'll do a three and a four and a five. Watch, they'll have tomorrow 'We knew he'd –' No, I don't want to say." [Video: 22:15-23:01]
June 16, 2019 (Twitter): Trump suggested supporters might not want him to leave office after two terms: "The good . . . news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (Do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!"
June 21, 2019 (Twitter): Trump pins a tweet of a Time Magazine cover video that refers to him staying in office "4eva".
June 23, 2019 (Interview, Meet the Press (NBC)):
Chuck Todd: You have joked about a third term. You've joked about these things.
Trump: I only joke.
Trump: I joke. And I say, "Watch, I will drive Chuck Todd crazy."
Todd: You will, you will accept the re – Okay. You will –
Trump: Yes, there won't be a third term.
Todd: You will accept the results?
Trump: 100%. Sure.
Todd: And you will accept whatever happens in 2020?
Todd: You lose, you'll be like – you're not going to like it, but you walk out.
Trump: In fact, I said at a speech recently, I said, "Watch. We'll drive the media crazy. Let's go for a third time and then a fourth." And some of the media said, "He's going to do it."
June 24, 2019 (Interview, The Hill): "Well, we have to go through the six years or whatever it may be when – when you know, would I like to get a ride out of some of your compatriots, say, go through the six, 10, 14, maybe 18 years, whatever it may be." [When asked if he is joking, Trump replied: "Of course. But it drives them crazy."]
July 11, 2019 (Twitter): "The Fake News is not as important, or as powerful, as Social Media. They have lost tremendous credibility since that day in November, 2016, that I came down the escalator with the person who was to become your future First Lady. When I ultimately leave office in six ... years, or maybe 10 or 14 (just kidding), they will quickly go out of business for lack of credibility, or approval, from the public. That's why they will all be Endorsing me at some point, one way or the other. Could you imagine having Sleepy Joe Biden, or Alfred E. Newman..."
July 17, 2019 (Rally in Greenville, North Carolina): "I saw one of these so-called comedians the other day [Bill Maher]. I mean he's, you know, a pretty respected comedian. He said 'He's not leaving. I'm telling you, he's not leaving. He'll never leave. He'll win this election and in '24, I'm telling you, he's not leaving. He's going to stay.' So we did, through our friend Dan Scavino, we did a Time Magazine cover. I was on so many Times I don't even read this thing. And it says 'Trump 2014', 2018, right? But it says 20 – here's where we go. We start at 16, we go to 20, we go to 24. Did you see it? Then it says 28, 32, 36, 40, 44. No, we don't need any more time. We don't need any more time. We need one more." [Video: 81:10-82:10]
August 13, 2019 (Speech at Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex, Potter Township, Pennsylvania): "Can you imagine if I got a fair press? I mean, we're leading without it. Can you imagine if these people treated me fairly? The election would be over. Have they ever called off an election before? Just said 'look, just let's go, go on, four more years.' Yeah. And then do you want to really drive them crazy? Go do: #thirdterm. #fourthterm. You'll drive them totally crazy. I mean you have one guy on television [Maher, again] – 'I'm telling you he's not leaving. He's going to win and then he's not leaving. So in 2024 he won't leave. I'm telling you –' This is a serious person. These people have gone stone cold crazy." [Video: 17:41-18:24]
August 30, 2019 (Twitter): "The disastrous IG Report on James Comey shows, in the strongest of terms, how unfairly I, and tens of millions of great people who support me, were treated. Our rights and liberties were illegally stripped away by this dishonest fool. We should be given our stolen time back?"
September 9, 2019 (Press Conference, White House): "Gianni, we're going to have to extend my second term because 2026 – I'm going to have to extend it for a couple of years. I don't think any of you [White House press corps] would have a problem with that."
September 9, 2019 (Rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina): [Trump takes sole credit for bringing the 2026 World Cup to the US, then "jokes" about serving a third term so he can still be president for it.]
"2026. And I said, Well, wait a minute. Under the normal rules, I'll be out in 2024. So we may have to go for an extra term. Oh, they're going crazy. They're going crazy. Tomorrow, you're going to see headlines, 'Trump wants an extra term! I told you! I told you! He wants an extra term, ladies and gentlemen. We told you! We told you! He's a dictator. We told you!' No, I'm only kidding. I'm only kidding." [Video: 93:15-94:09]
September 10, 2019: Tweets picture of "Trump 2024" sign.
October 10, 2019 (Rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota): "True. He said to me, I just told him call me . . . He said, 'President, I can't do it.' He said. So he says, 'President, you've been here now for, think of it, almost three years. Can you believe we're here three years?' We, we, it's we. And we have to promise them no more than 16 years. Okay? No more. No more. 16 more years. I'm only kidding. Now they'll go back. See, he wants to run for more. But he said, 'President, could I ask you a question? It's so important to me.' He's a great businessman, very successful. He said, 'You deal with all of these nations, these great, powerful . . . Who is the worst to deal with? Is it China? Is it North Korea? Is India? Is it Russia? Please tell me, Mr. Pres – who is the toughest nation to deal with?' I said, 'You're not going to believe this. It's the USA is the toughest nation to deal with.' The USA." [Video: 62:01-63:08]
October 17, 2019 (Rally in Dallas, Texas): "142 judges. Within two months, we will have, John and Ted and all of these great congressmen, we will have passed 182 federal judges. And then they say: 'Obama was . . . He's such a wonderful president.' How are you a wonderful president when the most important thing you can do, you handed over to the Republicans. 142. How is that good? I mean, how is that good? If I were a Democrat, I wouldn't be too happy about that number. And we'll have a record number of judges by the time our term is over in 16 years, maybe 20. I'm only kidding. I'm only kidding because every time I do that, they say, 'See, he's assuming control.'" [Video: 78:10-79:21]
October 23, 2019 (Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): "Wow, look at the great people. Thank you very much. Four more years. Why don't you drive them crazy? Go '16 more years.' You'll drive 'em nuts." [Video: 13:30-13:48]
October 25, 2019 (Criminal Justice Forum, Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina): [Audience chanting "Four more years"] "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Now don't say 16 more years 'cause you'll drive them crazy. They're afraid, they said, 'You know he's going to win.' They said – one of these characters said – 'You know he's going to win, don't you? You know he's going to win.' Well, no we're going to fight – 'He's going to win. And then he's never getting out. He'll be here for another four and then another four and then another – We're never going to get him.' So when we say four more years, sometimes say 16 more years. It drives them crazy. And we like doing that, don't we?" [Video: 53:42-54:35]
November 4, 2019 (Rally in Lexington, Kentucky): "Look at all of these people back there, look. . . . Fake news media. It's the fake news. Look at all of them. What they don't know is that when we hang it up in five years, or nine years, or 13 years, or maybe 17 years, or maybe – if I still have the strength – 21 years. See, now they're going crazy. Now they'll say 'See, I told you he was a dictator! He wants to take charge and control of our country!' These people are crazy. You have one nut job on television [Yep, it's Maher]. He's sitting down doing an interview recently and he looks at the person he's interviewing and he goes – like he's in total depression, total depression – and he goes – good fans up there, thank you – he goes 'you know he's going to win don't you, you know he's going to win' – like, like devastated – and the guy goes 'well, we're going to fight, we're going to –' 'No, no, he's going to win. You know he's never leaving office, don't you? He's never going to leave office.' These people are crazy, they're crazy." [Video: 14:15-16:05]
December 7, 2019 (Israeli American Council National Summit, Hollywood, Florida): "At some point, whether it's five years from now, nine years from now, 13 years from now – I'm doing this to drive the media crazy. [applause] Because a lot of them say, "You know he's not leaving, don't you?" One of these characters – these people are so stupid. One of them said – one of them said, "You know he's going to win, don't you? And you know, at the end of his second term, you know he's not leaving. He's not leaving. You know that." And I thought he's a comedian [Guess who?]. I thought he was kidding. He's for real. So now we have to start thinking about that, because it's not a bad idea. [applause] No, but these people are going crazy. When they all scream, "Four more years, four more years," I always say, "Make it 12 years and you'll drive them crazy." Twelve more years." [Crowd chants "Twelve more years!"]
December 10, 2019 (Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania): "When you leave office, I hope in 5 years, 9 years, 13 years, 17 years, 21 years, 25 years, 29 years. When I leave office… Now I'm only doing that to drive them totally crazy. That drives them crazy. Even joking about it. We have this idiot comedian who stands up [He's obsessed with Maher], he's talking to a guest, right? He said, 'You know he's going to win, don't you? You know it.' The guy goes, 'No, no. We're going to fight. We're going to fight.' And they will. 'No, no, no. You know he's going to win.' Then he goes, 'You know he's going to win. And you know he's never leaving, don't you? He's never leaving.' At first I thought he was kidding. He's a whack job. He is totally serious. He honestly believes that. I don't know, should we give it a shot? Maybe we'll give it a shot. I'm only kidding. I'm only kidding. Media, I'm only kidding. They won't write that, but that's okay. They won't write the 'I'm only kidding part.'" [Video: 74:03-75:16]
December 18, 2019 (Rally in Battle Creek, Michigan): "We have the greatest country. We've turned around the ship. We need four more years. If we don't have it. Now if you want to drive them crazy – we had one group in Pennsylvania, some guy started screaming '16 more years.' They went crazy. And you know what they don't understand? When I do get out, they're all going to go out of business. They're making more money than they've ever made." [Video: 90:10-90:40]