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In an urgent appeal on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said President Trump presented "unique threats to our democracy" and detailed a plan to ensure the election results will be honored and that voters can cast their ballots safely.

Driving the news: When asked yesterday whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, Trump would not, and said: "We're going to have to see what happens."

What they're saying: "It is terribly important that we listen to and take seriously what Donald Trump is saying," Sanders said in remarks at George Washington University in D.C.

  • "Let me make this clear to Donald Trump: Too many people have fought and died to defend American democracy and you are not going to destroy it."
  • "Today, under Donald Trump, we have a president who has little respect for our constitution or the rule of law," Sanders continued. "Today, that peaceful transition of power, the bedrock of American democracy, is being threatened like never before."

Sanders said this election is bigger than Trump vs. Biden. "This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden," he said. "This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy — and democracy must win."

"The United States is the oldest continuous democracy in the modern world. We held elections in the middle of a Civil War in 1864. We held free and fair elections during World War I, during the Great Depression, and during World War II. After all of those elections, held in extremely difficult circumstances, the loser acknowledged defeat and the winner was inaugurated and took office.
— Sen. Bernie Sanders

Why it matters: Democrats have little power to stop President Trump and Republicans in the Senate, so they have to get out and make clear to the public that they've had enough and they're ready to fight.

  • On a Thursday call with reporters, Biden's deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield said: "Joe Biden has participated in a peaceful transition of power before. He certainly will this time."

The big picture: Democrats are watching their Republican colleagues move to jam through President Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election, while he's also falsely claiming there's an abundance of voter fraud happening with absentee ballots.

  • Trump told reporters this week that part of his urgency to quickly push through a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in anticipation of a situation where the Supreme Court may have to decide the result of the 2020 election.
  • Trump has said that mail-in voting poses the "biggest risk" to his re-election prospects, and claimed, without evidence, that widespread mail-in voting would somehow rig the election against him.

Go deeper: Sanders: America should prepare for Trump's refusal to concede

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jan 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell slaps back Trump — repeatedly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell departs the Capitol on Dec. 11. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

It took four years and an election defeat. But someone with real power inside the Republican Party is standing up to — and swatting back — President Trump: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Why it matters: This is a preview of the power struggle that will define the Republican Party in 2021.

Congress overrides Trump's veto of defense spending bill

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Congress handed President Trump a rare blow on Friday when the Senate joined the House in voting to override his veto of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Why it matters: The bipartisan New Year's Day legislative rebuke is the first veto override of Trump's presidency. It comes less than three weeks before Trump leaves office and underscores the popularity of the military legislation, passed each Congress since 1967, that includes increased pay for troops.

U.S. ambassador to Russia will return home briefly: State Department

John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during a briefing in Moscow in 2015. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department said Monday that the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, will now be returning to the United States this week before returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks."

Why this matters: The statement, from a State Department spokesperson, comes just hours after Axios reported that Sullivan had indicated he intended to stand his ground and stay in Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home to talk with his team.