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Republicans tell Trump: You can't delay 2020 election

President has no power to move election day without congressional action – and Republicans in both houses immediately dismiss idea

Andrew Naughtie
Friday 31 July 2020 09:50 BST
Donald Trump on delaying the election and mail-in voting: It will be the 'most inaccurate and fraudulent in history'

Donald Trump’s suggestion that the 2020 election be delayed was instantly dismissed by many top Republicans, crushing the idea almost immediately and forcing the president to moderate his position.

Their reaction came as the president’s idea faced unanimous condemnation from the Democratic side, with some members of the president's own party also decrying the move.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a former Republican presidential candidate himself, said Mr Trump “can suggest whatever he wants” but that “The law is what it is. We’re going to have an election that’s legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as we’ve always done it.”

The Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, was similarly intransigent. “No way should we ever not hold an election on the day that we have it,” he insisted.

Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, meanwhile, dismissed the idea out of hand. “It doesn’t matter what one individual in this country says. We still are a country based on the rule of law. And we must follow the law until either the Constitution is changed or until the law is changed.”

Any delay to the election would require an act of Congress, and Mr Trump has no power to move the date himself. The sight of his congressional allies squashing the idea immediately appears to have cowed him slightly.

At his White House press conference on Thursday evening as the furore played out, Mr Trump hedged on his eagerness for a delay even as he doubled down on his verdict that the election will be “crooked” and “one of the most rigged elections in history”.

“I don’t want to delay. I want to have the election. But I also do not want to have to wait for three months and then find out the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything.

“That is what is going to happen, Steve. That’s common sense. Everyone knows it. Smart people know what. Stupid people may not know it. And some people don’t want to talk about it, but they know it.

“We want to have an election where people actually go in, what’s your name? My name is so-and-so and you signed the book. I’ve been doing it for years …

“We are asking for a lot of trouble. Do I want to see a date change? No. But I don’t want to see a crooked election. This election will be one of the most rigged elections in history if that happens.”

Mr Trump has in fact himself voted by mail in the last few years, specifically from Florida.

While there is no indication that mail-in voting will lead to widespread electoral fraud, recent primaries in several states have seen mail-in votes counted very slowly. In New York, there were even reports of as many as 28 per cent of mail ballots being thrown out in some districts because of problems with envelopes, postmarks and signatures.

Some of Mr Trump’s opponents have raised the possibility that if defeated, the president might refuse to leave the White House on the basis that the result is fraudulent. However, Joe Biden – who suggested months ago that Mr Trump might try to put the election off – has said he is “convinced” that were the president to refuse to leave, the army would escort him from the White House “with great dispatch”.

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