Trump has no authority to delay an election, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date for voting. Yet Trump’s message provides an opening — long feared by Democrats — that both he and his supporters might refuse to accept the results of the presidential results.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” he wrote. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
Trump has previously sought to stoke fear and lay the groundwork to question the election’s results by promoting the idea that mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud and a “rigged” election. Democrats have warned that his efforts are meant both to suppress voting and to provide a reason to refuse to leave office should he lose.
His tweet comes as a spate of recent polling in battleground states — and even states he won handily in 2016 — show him trailing or virtually tied with former Vice President Joe Biden, and widespread disapproval of his handling of the pandemic.
Trump has turned instead to stoking racial divisions and appealing to white voters as he works to consolidate support among the constituencies he won in 2016. And he has taken steps to undermine the election results in ways that reflect an extraordinary break in tradition.
Asked about the issue in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr said he had “no reason to think” that the upcoming election will be “rigged.” But he did say he believes that “if you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud.”
But historically, voting by mail has not led to massive voter fraud. And nonpartisan election experts say the possibility of foreign entities printing millions of fraudulent mail-in ballots this November is highly unlikely.
The President does not have the power to change the date of the election. Election Day is set by congressional statute, and most experts agree that it cannot be changed without congressional approval.
Biden has previously raised the possibility of Trump attempting to delay the election.
“Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Biden said at a virtual fundraiser in April, according to a pool report.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
CNN’s Tara Subramaniam, Abby Phillip, and DJ Judd contributed to this report.