2020 Election Live Updates: Trump Warns of ‘Election Disaster’ but Cites No Evidence of Fraud

The Trump campaign has gone off the airwaves, pausing TV advertising in order to review its strategy. Joe Biden has pushed back his planned announcement of a running mate.

A House committee has subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, escalating its investigation into whether Mr. Pompeo aided attempts to smear Mr. Biden and his son.

“Yes.” Reporter: “Kayleigh, if the president is so worried about how long it will take to count ballots in the election, then why isn’t the president and this White House doing everything it can to secure more funding for staffing and other resources to make sure that we can have a safe and proper election?” “Look, what this White House is focused on is making sure that our election is not riddled with voting fraud, and that the timetable is not hung up here. We are — there are several lawsuits that the campaign is engaged on. And I would point you to the campaign for specifics.” Reporter: “That doesn’t answer my question, though. My question is, what is the White House doing to get more resources for funding and staff to make sure, as the president says, that it will be a secure and safe election?” “Well as you know, Peter, states run their elections and it is up to states —” Reporter: “And they’re asking for more money.” “But what this White House is focused on is ensuring that — what Jeffrey Toobin has said over at The New Yorker, CNN contributor notably, ‘New York’s primary vote count chaos signals trouble for November.’ And as he noted, you want to talk about the president, but Jeffrey Toobin himself: Democrats controlled the state government of New York. They are responsible for creating the fiasco that is unfolding now. And that is certain to get worse in November. States need to get their acts together when it comes to elections. And as we see in New York, where we’re five weeks out from that election. And in fact, we still don’t know the outcome of a congressional race, and that is certainly not what we want to see.” Reporter: “I’m asking you about the president.”

A day after President Trump raised the possibility of delaying the November election, which he cannot do, he and his administration renewed their attacks on voting by mail despite a lack of evidence that it leads to significant voter fraud.

Mr. Trump, who polls show is facing the prospect of a decisive loss to Joseph R. Biden Jr., issued dire new warnings on Friday that the outcome of the election might be delayed and unverifiable, using the coronavirus pandemic to sow concerns about ballot integrity.

“This is going to be the greatest election disaster in history,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House after a meeting with national police union leaders.

“It’ll be fixed,” he added, although he did not repeat his call to delay the Nov. 3 vote. “It’ll be rigged.”

Mr. Trump called absentee ballots “great,” saying, “you have to go through a process to get them.” But he warned that the mail-in ballots many states plan to distribute in large numbers are susceptible to widespread fraud, even though few election experts agree.

Mr. Trump made several references to a June 23 primary election in New York City whose results have been delayed by problems counting a huge number of mail-in ballots. But although that process has been painstakingly slow, and at least one candidate has raised concerns about rejected ballots, there has been no suggestion that voter fraud was involved.

“Look at New York,” Mr. Trump said. “They had a race, a small race by comparison. By comparison, tiny. It’s so messed up they have no idea.”

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, echoed the president’s attacks during a media briefing on Friday and repeatedly backed away from supporting any proposals to provide states funding for elections to ensure the process could be made more secure.

“States run their elections, and it is up to states to make sure that they have the capacity,” Ms. McEnany said.

Voter fraud is rare in the United States, and mail-in voting is not a new or untested idea. Five states — Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii — already conduct voting primarily by mail.

But Mr. Trump has repeatedly tried to sow doubt about the mail-in voting process, despite having voted by mail himself before. His administration’s stance is at odds with an increasing number of Americans who support the process, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

A growing number of White House officials have publicly spoken out against mail-in voting in recent days, spreading falsehoods alongside Mr. Trump. Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, falsely claimed on Fox News on Friday morning that people who vote by mail do not have their identities checked.

This is not true. There are several ways that states verify voter data, including collecting signatures, birthdays, drivers license numbers and partial Social Security numbers, which are then compared against existing voter rolls.

Asked on Friday whether he wants the election delayed, as he suggested on Thursday, Mr. Trump insisted that “nobody wants that date more than me.”

But he then seemed to call again for a new election date — this time, an earlier one.

It is always risky to read too much into Mr. Trump’s tweets and offhand remarks to reporters. To what degree was he making an explicitly race-baiting appeal to suburban homeowners by promising to block the construction of low-income housing in their backyards? Would he actually try (the Constitution notwithstanding) to postpone the election, as he suggested on Thursday?

These could be the unpremeditated remarks of a public figure who knows how to roil the water, and — from his years playing the corners in the famously raucous New York City media market — how to change the subject. Mr. Trump’s tweet on elections came after the release of a report that noted the economy was contracting at a record rate.

But whether by design or not, Mr. Trump’s latest attack on voting, less than 100 days before the election, sows distrust in one of the basic pillars of the American system at a time when the country is culturally and politically polarized, confronting regular demonstrations and battered by an out-of-control pandemic.

These remarks set the groundwork for disputing the outcome of a close election, should he lose to Joseph R. Biden Jr., empowering his supporters, Republican politicians and lawyers to reject the result if it is not to his liking. That could take the form of recounts, court battles or protests.

The weeks after Election Day — rather than being a time for transition and healing if Mr. Biden wins, or preparations for a second term if Mr. Trump wins — could end up being a period of chaos that eclipses the level of disruption Florida witnessed in the closing days of 2000 after the disputed election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

It seems noteworthy that when Mr. Trump questioned postponing the election, pushback came from the Republicans who have been his most unquestioning supporters, among them, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The question now is whether those men, and other congressional supporters of Mr. Trump’s, will be back at his side if the president comes to dispute the legitimacy of the election.

The Trump campaign has completely gone off the air, temporarily suspending all television advertising nationwide as the campaign undertakes a “review” of its advertising strategy under the new campaign manager, Bill Stepien.

“With the leadership change in the campaign, there’s understandably a review and fine-tuning of the campaign’s strategy,” a campaign official said. “We’ll be back on the air shortly.”

The pause comes after several weeks of attacks against Mr. Trump’s opponent, Mr. Biden, on policing issues. The campaign spent more than $30 million since early July on television and digital ads that sought to sow fear and division about the racial justice protests around the country and falsely depict them as violent.

Mr. Trump’s campaign has been prolific on the airwaves since last September, when it began advertising during the impeachment process, and it has continued at a significant pace. Since last January, the campaign has spent $202 million in television and digital advertising, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.

While it has temporarily paused its advertising, the Trump campaign still has more than $146 million in television and radio ads booked through November, a number that far outpaces the Biden campaign. None of those reservations have been altered or shifted yet as part of the current review.

Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday that his campaign would roll out “a new ad campaign” attacking Mr. Biden on Monday. “He has been brought even further LEFT than Crazy Bernie Sanders ever thought possible,” the president added.

Though the campaign is not on television at the moment, it is still advertising on Facebook, with dozens of active ads. The campaign spent nearly $4 million on the platform over the past week.

The complete pause in advertising followed the campaign’s recent decision to suspend advertising in Michigan, a battleground state that Mr. Trump won by less than 11,000 votes in 2016.

Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, plans to announce his running mate the week before the Democratic convention — which begins on Aug. 17 — later than his previously stated target of Aug. 1.

Senator Kamala Harris of California has long been seen as a front-runner, but two lesser-known candidates — Representative Karen Bass of California and the former national security adviser Susan E. Rice — have also risen to the top of Mr. Biden’s shortlist recently, as the Times political reporters Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck wrote on Friday.

All three are Black, which has been an important consideration for Mr. Biden and his selection team given the importance of Black voters, and especially Black women, as a Democratic constituency.

Other factors in Mr. Biden’s decision include whether he believes a candidate will spend time in the White House pursuing their own political goals, and how much of a target he thinks they will be for President Trump.

As the Kansas Senate primary barrels to a close, tensions are rising between Senate Republicans and the White House over the potential nomination of Kris Kobach, who party officials fear would jeopardize the seat and further imperil their Senate majority.

Mr. McConnell is worried that Mr. Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state who rose to national prominence with his hard-line views on immigration and voting rights before losing the 2018 governor’s race, may win the nomination in Tuesday’s primary only to lose the seat in November — and he is frustrated that Mr. Trump is not intervening in the race, according to multiple G.O.P. officials.

Mr. McConnell and other Senate Republican leaders have made urgent pleas to the president to block Mr. Kobach by endorsing one of his opponents, Representative Roger Marshall. But Mr. Trump has so far declined to do so, and his aides said they had no plans to change course. Compounding the frustration of Capitol Hill Republicans, White House aides have refused to tell Mr. Kobach, a longtime booster of Mr. Trump, to stop using the president’s imagery in his campaign materials.

With a number of incumbent Senate Republicans trailing in polls and being out-raised by their Democratic rivals, they have little margin for error as they seek to protect their 53-47 majority. And because of Mr. Trump’s broad unpopularity, and a health crisis that has devastated the economy, even a deeply conservative state like Kansas, which has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since the 1930s, is no sure thing for Senate Republicans this year.

“We have eight months of data that says the majority is gone if Kris Kobach is the nominee,” said Josh Holmes, a top lieutenant to Mr. McConnell. “It’s that simple.”

The Democratic-led House Foreign Affairs Committee has subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, escalating its investigation into whether Mr. Pompeo aided election-year attempts to smear Mr. Biden, the president’s political rival.

The subpoena, announced on Friday, demands that Mr. Pompeo turn over records related to Mr. Biden and his son that the State Department has already produced to Republican-led Senate panels.

Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in recent months have labored to resurrect unsubstantiated claims that Mr. Biden’s son helped a Ukrainian energy firm curry favor with the Obama administration when his father was vice president, and granted themselves subpoena power aimed at uncovering potential wrongdoing.

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the panel, said on Friday that his committee’s investigators had learned that the State Department has produced 16,080 pages of material to the Senate committees since February, but had declined to produce those same documents to his panel.

“Secretary Pompeo has turned the State Department into an arm of the Trump campaign and he’s not even trying to disguise it,” Mr. Engel said. “After trying to stonewall virtually every oversight effort by the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last two years, Mr. Pompeo is more than happy to help Senate Republicans advance their conspiracy theories about the Bidens.”

Mr. Trump’s attacks on mail voting and attempt to cast doubt on the timing of the November election raise a couple of questions:

At this moment of coronavirus-driven insecurity, where do Americans stand on voting by mail? And how many might be persuaded, as the president argues, that the election’s very legitimacy is in doubt?

Recent polling shows that Americans now overwhelmingly support universal access to mail-in voting. In national surveys from the past few months, all taken after Mr. Trump began attacking the idea as dangerous, upward of six in 10 respondents have said that they would favor making absentee voting universally available.

But surveys also reflect how susceptible many people’s opinions can be to misinformation, when it comes to matters of fraud and vote security. For instance, 49 percent of Americans said in an ABC News/Washington Post poll in mid-July that mail-in voting was “vulnerable to significant levels of fraud.” That lines up cleanly with a Gallup poll from April that showed 49 percent of Americans thought expanding access to mail-in ballots would increase the prevalence of voter fraud.

This despite the fact that studies have consistently proven voter fraud to be exceedingly rare — including in the five states that now conduct all their voting by mail.

A new paper by an M.I.T. elections expert predicts that the outcome of this year’s presidential election — and the problem known as the “lost vote,” in which legitimate ballots go uncounted — could fuel post-election allegations of a rigged election. The paper, by Charles Stewart III, highlights how Mr. Trump’s claims about problems with mail balloting could drag on long after November if the election is close.

A “lost vote” occurs when a voter does everything necessary to vote but, thanks to administrative errors, the vote isn’t counted in the final tally, according to Mr. Stewart, a professor of political science. In Georgia’s June primaries, for example, ballot scanners did not count mail ballots when voters used check marks instead of filling in the ovals.

In the paper, released this week, Mr. Stewart concludes that, for a variety of reasons, while lost votes are rare, they occur more frequently when mail-in ballots are used.

In the 2016 election, he writes, approximately 4 percent of the mail ballots cast — or 1.4 million votes — went uncounted. With more states now embracing mail ballots, including a number of states with little experience with voting by mail, Mr. Stewart predicts a “disproportionate growth” in the number of lost votes in November.

“Despite the clear public health imperative that mail balloting be increased in the 2020 primary season and general election, the expansion of mail balloting comes with risks,” Mr. Stewart writes. “To be sure, these risks are small, and should not be sensationalized.”

In an interview Friday, Mr. Stewart said that some of his past writing on the topic had been misinterpreted, including in recent legal documents that used his research to sensationalize the risk of lost votes. “It’s not a basket of votes being hidden or mailed in from Siberia or name your fantasy story,” he said.

Nevertheless, given the tenor of the 2020 election season so far, uncounted mail votes will likely become fodder for legal disputes, particularly if one or two swing states are too close to call, he predicts.

“The great risk of an increase in mail ballots in 2020 may not befall individual voters as much as it affects any post-election controversy over whether the election was ‘rigged’ or legitimate,” the paper concludes.

The House on Friday took the rare step of reprimanding one of its own members for ethics violations, voting unanimously to fine Representative David Schweikert, Republican of Arizona, $50,000 for breaking campaign finance laws.

The vote came after the House Ethics Committee found that Mr. Schweikert violated 11 House ethics rules. It marked the first time since 2012 that the House has reprimanded one of its members for an ethics violation.

“There is no joy in reprimanding one of our colleagues,” said Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, who helped lead the investigation into Mr. Schweikert’s actions.

The committee said a two-year investigation had found “substantial reason to believe” that Mr. Schweikert had violated House rules, the Code of Ethics for Government Service, federal laws and other standards.

It cited Mr. Schweikert for campaign finance violations and errors in reporting by his campaign committees; the misuse of his congressional allowance; pressuring official staff members to perform campaign work; and his “lack of candor and due diligence” during the investigation.

House investigators found that Mr. Schweikert’s campaign had accepted more than $270,000 from his then-chief of staff, in violation of campaign finance laws. The former chief of staff also testified that he was pressured to raise money for the congressman’s campaign, a committee report said.

Mr. Schweikert had agreed to a $50,000 fine as part of an agreement to end the investigation.

Back in April, Jill Karofsky became just the second person in 50 years to defeat a sitting Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. A liberal judge on the state circuit court, Ms. Karofsky is planning to be sworn in at mile 35 of a 100-mile ultramarathon she is running in Wisconsin starting at 6 a.m. Saturday.

Ms. Karofsky, who has run several marathons, will have a say in cases dealing with voting rights and Wisconsin’s pandemic response, and she spoke with our reporter Reid J. Epstein this week. The conversation was edited and condensed.

I was supposed to do a 100-mile race and I just thought, “Why not get sworn in in the middle of this 100-mile run and make it a little more of a bigger deal than it might be otherwise and than other people have done in the past?”

Five miles past Belleville is an old bar called Dot’s Tavern. And when you’re actually doing the run, the deal is you have to run into the tavern, go down to the basement of the tavern, and get a coaster to prove that you were there. So yeah. It’s just for shtick. And that’s at 35 miles.

I’d be happy to finish around 30 hours, so I’d like to be, I’m hoping to be done by noon on Sunday.

So help me with the math, what sort of pace does that mean you’ll be running?

Oh, it’s about 13-minute miles. But you also have to factor in I’m going to lose at least 30, 45 minutes getting sworn in.

I have a couple of friends who are going to meet me out there at different sections of the course. One of my friends is going to run through the night with me.

How is keeping this sort of running regimen helpful to doing a job like being a Supreme Court justice?

No matter what your job is, when you sit down to do your job, to have the clearest mind possible is how we all perform the best. And I think that making important decisions on behalf of the state of Wisconsin, if I can come at those decisions from a place where my mind is clear and I’m not making decisions from a place of stress, then I can perform at my best.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Luke Broadwater, Alexander Burns, Emily Cochrane, Nick Corasaniti, Michael Crowley, Catie Edmondson, Reid J. Epstein, Katie Glueck, Mark Landler, Jonathan Martin, Adam Nagourney, Jeremy W. Peters, Katie Rogers, Giovanni Russonello and Stephanie Saul.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/31/us/elections/biden-vs-trump.html

News – 2020 Election Live Updates: Trump Warns of ‘Election Disaster’ but Cites No Evidence of Fraud

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