Former President Donald Trump reportedly told aides that he would simply refuse to hand over power to President Joe Biden after losing the 2020 election.
“I’m just not going to leave,” Trump told one aide, CNN reported, quoting a forthcoming book by journalist Maggie Haberman.
“We’re never leaving,” Trump told a second aide, the network reported. “How can you leave when you won an election?”
The direct quotes reported in Haberman’s book mark the first time that Trump’s insistence on clinging to power has been documented.
Trump initially seemed to accept defeat to Biden in the November election, which he lost by some 7 million votes and a healthy majority in the Electoral College.
But he soon hit on the idea that he could blame his loss on supposed widespread fraud, a canard that had already been debunked by election officials from both parties.
He reportedly asked Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee: “Why should I leave if they stole it from me?”
The fresh reporting could dig an even deeper legal hole for Trump as federal prosecutors probe his effort to enlist fake electors from some states to muddy the waters.
The feds are also examining his effort to lead the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that was designed to block Congress from certifying Biden’s win.
Neither one of those investigations is thought to be directly linked to the probe into his taking top-secret documents to his Florida resort and defying a subpoena to return them.