Donald Trump has accused some states of acting illegally in sending out absentee ballot applications to voters and threatened to withhold some of their funding. Tradefair brings you the latest from US politics...
Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections."
- Donald Trump
Donald Trump has launched Twitter attacks on the swing states of Michigan and Nevada for their recent efforts to make it easier for citizens to vote by mail, claiming they acted illegally in sending out absentee ballot applications to millions of people ahead of forthcoming primaries and the November general election.
The president said there is "a lot of illegality" associated with mail-in voting and suggested states taking steps to allow it were increasing the likelihood of voter fraud. Trump has previously aired concerns over the impact postal voting could have on his re-election chances, tweeting that "for whatever reason" it "doesn't work out well for Republicans".
An increasing number of states are loosening restrictions on absentee ballots to give people more ways to vote during the coronavirus pandemic.
'You must not cheat'
Trump first took aim at Nevada, saying the state "'thinks' that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots", which he argued would lead to "a great voter fraud scenario for the state and the US".
"They can't!" he continued. "If they do, 'I think' I can hold up funds to the state. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections."
The president then turned his attention to Michigan, referring to the state's delivery of absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people. He claimed this was "done illegally" and without authorisation by "rogue" secretary of state Jocelyn Benson.
"I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this voter fraud path!" Trump added.
Michigan is expected to be one of the most important battleground states in the forthcoming presidential election, along with Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and others.
More states across the country are taking steps - either proactively or on court orders - to enable more widespread postal voting amid the ongoing restrictions and health concerns linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
A federal judge in Texas this week ruled that all voters can request an absentee ballot if they are worried that going to the polls in person will increase their risk of contracting the virus.
Benson reacted to the president's Twitter attack by saying that, even after he deleted a previous tweet to alter its wording, his accusation of illegality was "still wrong".
"Every Michigan registered voter has a right to vote by mail. I have the authority and responsibility to make sure that they know how to exercise this right," she tweeted.
The Democrat also pointed out that Republicans were doing the same thing in states like Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska and West Virginia.
Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan, told reporters it was "disheartening" to see Trump's comments on Twitter, adding: "It shows you that there maybe was a lack of understanding of what the secretary of state was doing."
As for Trump's threat to withhold funds from states that are expanding their postal voting capacity, experts have suggested the president doesn't have the power to follow through with it.
Samuel Bagenstos, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Michigan Law School, told CNN: "The president doesn't just get to decide that he's not going to spend appropriated funds because he doesn't like what states are doing."
Trump eyes return to campaign trail
As well as opposing mail-in voting, Trump's campaign for re-election this year will focus on getting back on the campaign trail and hosting rallies to reinvigorate his loyal voter base as soon as possible, reports this week suggested.
Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the president's successful 2016 campaign, said Trump enjoys hosting "patriotic events" where he can engage with his supporters.
"The more he's out there doing that, the better mood he's going to be in. That's important in a presidential year," he added. "The goal is to get as close to a traditional Trump event as possible as we're entering the warmer months here, without having to change too much."
Trump is set to face presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November's election.
The incumbent president will be keeping a close eye on trends in the economy and on the stock markets in the coming months as he sets his sights on a second term in the White House.
He will be encouraged by the latest trends on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 Index rising by 6.3% in the past week and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 6.6%.
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