While President Trump has long railed against mail-in voting, falsely claiming it leads to rampant fraud, he appeared to confirm Thursday morning that he opposes Democrats' proposed boost in funding to the U.S. Postal Service for the express purpose of making it harder to expand voting by mail.
His comments came during an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network after she asked why the White House and Congressional Democrats are still miles apart on approving a new stimulus deal.
Trump said one major factor is the Democrats' push for an injection of funds into the U.S. Postal Service to expand voting by mail.
"They [the Democrats] want three and a half billion dollars for something that'll turn out to be fraudulent - that's election money basically," Trump said.
"They want $25 billion for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, in the meantime, they aren't getting there. But if they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting because they're not equipped to have it."
Nine states are mailing ballots to all active voters this fall, including six that have been doing so for years but most states are not conducting what Trump calls universal mail-in voting.
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He goes on say, "If we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail in voting. They just can't have it."
The Biden campaign quickly responded, calling the president's intentions an "assault on democracy."
"The President of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years — a crisis so devastatingly worsened by his own failed leadership that we are now the hardest hit country in the world by the coronavirus pandemic," said Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates in a statement.
This isn't the first time even this week that the president has lambasted voting by mail.
On Wednesday, he devoted a considerable amount of time during his daily briefing with reporters to denounced any plans for additional funding to support the U.S. Postal Service.
"Now they want to take it countrywide — mail-in voting. It's going to be the greatest fraud in the history of elections. When you always talk about Russia, Russia, Russia and China, Iran on voting — the biggest problem is going to be with the Democrats, not with China, Russia and Iran," he said.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, experts estimate up to 70 percent of votes could be cast by mail this election cycle, requiring equipment upgrades to handle the uptick.
And while Trump asserted in his interview with Fox that there's "nothing wrong with getting out and voting," citing people who voted during the first and second world wars, health experts say that voting by mail could reduce voters' exposure and spread of the coronavirus.
Election watchdogs were quick to denounce Trump's latest comments.
"Trump's brazen abuse of the post office to try and win an election is a shameful misuse of presidential power. Defunding the Postal Service and slowing its ability to deliver mail ballots to Americans will hurt Democratic and Republican voters alike," said Trevor Potter, the president of the Campaign Legal Center and former Republican chair of the Federal Election Commission.
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