President Trump is threatening to carry out a hold up.
Not one he’d need to wear a mask for, though — he won’t do that, even during the current pandemic.
No, his threat is to “hold up” federal funding of some kind, and it’s aimed at the states of Michigan and Nevada, because they’re planning to expand vote-by-mail options for the November election.
“Trump has been a vocal opponent of expanded mail-in voting, claiming, without evidence that it leads to fraud and ‘doesn’t work out well for Republicans,’” reports Axios.
That last is a direct quote from the president in April; it remains a remarkably candid admission from a candidate for re-election to the presidency.
On Twitter Wednesday, Trump claimed — falsely — that Michigan’s secretary of state, whom he did not name, “sent absentee ballots to 7.7 people,” saying it was done ‘illegally and without authorization.’”
He added: “I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”
It’s unclear if the president actually has the power to stop or delay such federal funding.
Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson (D) quickly retorted with a tweet of her own, “saying that the state ‘sent applications, not ballots’ and pointing out that Republican secretaries of state have done the same,” reports The Hill.
In an interview on MSNBC, she pointed out that voting by mail is a right “enshrined in our state constitution.”
Trump later issued a similar threat toward Nevada, which has moved to a largely mail-in system for its upcoming June 9 primary, a plan introduced by Nevada’s Republican secretary of state, Barbara Cegavske.
“State of Nevada ‘thinks’ that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S.,” Trump said in his second tweet. “They can’t! If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State.”
Benson and Cegavske both say voting by mail will help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Benson said on Tuesday that by mailing applications, “we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote.”
“In [his] morning tweets, Trump did not specify which funds he might withhold, and he has not always followed through with similar threats,” says the Washington Post. “But his message comes as many states grapple with how to safely proceed with elections.”