Trump continues to question voting by mail

President Trump continued to air his grievances over voting by mail Thursday, as unemployment benefits are expiring after Capitol Hill failed to reach an agreement Thursday. Thursday marked the release of some of the worst economic figures in U.S. history — Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank at an annual rate of 32.9% in the second quarter of the year, as the coronavirus coronavirus pandemic decimated broad swaths of economic activity.

The Senate adjourned Thursday afternoon, with Republicans and Democrats far apart on how to extend expanded unemployment benefits for those out of work because of the virus. That means expanded unemployment benefits — an additional $600 per week from the federal government — will expire. Mr. Trump on Thursday called for the temporary extension of expanded unemployment benefits, a program to halt evictions, direct payments to Americans, and $105 billion to help schools safely reopen. 

Mr. Trump, who had previously pinned his reelection hopes on a booming economy and pays close attention to economic indicators, made little mention of the grim GDP news. But he continues to question whether the U.S. election could be delayed, something the president does not have the authority to do.

“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. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” the president posed on Twitter Thursday. On Capitol Hill, many Republicans brushed aside the president’s remarks or discounted them as a joke, and insisted the presidential election will take place as planned on November 3. Mr. Trump has made sweeping, unsubstantiated allegations that voting by mail allows widespread voter fraud, even though he and many of his top aides have voted absentee or by mail. 

Asked to explain his tweet in the news conference Thursday, the president said he doesn’t want to delay the election, but said also doesn’t want to see votes turn up uncounted after the election. Mr. Trump said he plans to vote absentee this year.

“I don’t want to delay. I want to have the election. But I also don’t want to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing, and the election doesn’t mean anything,” said the president, adding this could be the most rigged election in history. 

The president, who has pushed for schools to reopen across the country, offered no assurances when asked how he can be sure schools are safe. The president did point out that children are far less likely to become seriously ill from the virus than adults.  

Asked how he can assure families that schools will be safe when sports teams have had outbreaks that have forced the to quarantine, the president responded, “So, can you assure anybody of anything?” 

Yesterday, the U.S. hit another grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic, with 150,000 deaths — according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s more confirmed fatalities than any other country in the world. 

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