“It’s despicable and un-American but not surprising,” said one senior Senate GOP aide. “They have never had any respect for the institutions of democracy that don’t benefit them. The beauty of federalism is that we leave it to the states to make their own rules and the idea that a president would overturn a state official’s decision to benefit them in an election is just kind of the antithesis of what Republicans used to believe in.”

He added, “It’s just one final F.U. to what Republicans used to believe in.”…

“I just can’t believe that he would say anything like that. It’s crazy,” said a former senior administration official. “I don’t know if it was an off the cuff remark that he often says that he hasn’t thought through or if it was a real strategic decision. … A lot of people ask me, ‘If he loses the election, will he try to stay in power?’ I don’t see any way that’s going to be possible. I think once an election is declared valid, he’s not going to have any option.”…

A current White House official also tried to downplay Trump’s steal-the-election rhetoric. “I don’t think it’s something that’s being seriously considered,” he insisted, perhaps not realizing how much work the word ‘seriously’ was doing in his statement.