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GOP Leaders Attempt to Distance Themselves From Trump’s Election Delay Talk

Under the Constitution, the president doesn’t have the power to move the date of federal elections.

Under the Constitution, the president doesn't have the power to move the date of federal elections.

A number of Republicans have condemned President Donald Trump’s suggestion on Thursday to delay this year’s elections.

While leaving the president’s false statements on mail-in voting unchallenged, several lawmakers within Trump’s own party were quick to rebuke the proposal.

“We are going to have an election on time. It’s unthinkable that would not be the case,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said. The only Republican to vote in favor of Trump’s impeachment, Romney also added that he’s “a fan of voting by mail” because, in case of a recount or other discrepancy, “you don’t have to worry about machines having been tampered with.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) also opined there should not be a delay.

“Never in the history of federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election,” McCarthy said.

Even some of Trump’s staunchest congressional allies were against the proposal. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told CNN, “I don’t think that’s a particularly good idea.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also dismissed Trump’s tweet. “Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally-scheduled election on time,” he said in an interview with WNKY. “We’ll find a way to do that again this November 3rd.”

Trump sent out the tweet on Thursday morning.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” the president wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

There is no evidence for Trump’s claim that mail-in voting is rife with fraud.

The tweet from the president on Thursday appeared to be unplanned, as his staffers were apparently unprepared for it, according to Reuters. One Republican source close to the White House even lamented that Trump “just can’t help himself” when it comes to writing such tweets, complaining that such comments throw into question the viability of his candidacy.

“This is starting to look like a real campaign, and then he does this,” the Republican source added. “It’s awful. It’s starting to look like he doesn’t even want to win.”

Trump’s proposal to postpone the election is itself a moot point — while he can make the suggestion, he has no legal authority to carry it out. According to the U.S. Constitution, only Congress can determine or change the date of federal elections.

Ellen Weintraub, a commissioner on the Federal Elections Commission, reminded Trump of that point in a tweet she sent out in response to his initial remarks.

“No, Mr. President. No. You don’t have the power to move the election,” Weintraub wrote. “Nor should it be moved.”

“States and localities are asking you and Congress for funds so they can properly run the safe and secure elections all Americans want,” she said. “Why don’t you work on that?”

Since 1845, federal elections have been held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

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