Trump’s comments were especially remarkable since it appears that the President has a good chance of winning outstanding states in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan, which could hand him a second term. And the implication of his authoritarian remarks was that the President wants vote counting to stop in those states but to go on in Arizona, where he trails Biden.

They were also a warning sign of the kind of behavior that might be expected in a second term from a President who has survived impeachment and may be heading for a new mandate that he would view as a validation of his norm-crushing behavior. In some ways, Trump’s aggressive response to a night of nail-biting tension and a yet-to-be-decided result could also take the gloss from what would be a stunning political achievement if he wins reelection despite expectations that his handling of the pandemic would cause the country to turn against him.