Elections|2020 Election Live Updates: Republicans Reject Trump’s Suggestion to Delay Election, Something He Cannot Do
July 30, 2020, 3:05 p.m. ET
Trailing badly in the polls, the president baselessly suggested that the November election would be fraudulent. No major Republicans have stepped forward to defend him.
Former President Barack Obama, speaking at Representative John Lewis’s funeral, said “those in power” were attacking voting rights. Follow our live updates on the funeral.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Trump floats a ‘delay’ in the election. None of his usual allies are on board.
- The G.O.P. break with Trump on moving the election is a rare party split.
- It’s highly unlikely that the general election will be postponed or canceled.
- Obama eulogizes John Lewis as a ‘founding father’ for a more perfect union.
- Trump’s speakerphone conversation with a senator in a Washington restaurant is caught on tape.
- Herman Cain dies after contracting the coronavirus.
- Obama unleashes on his successor privately as he raises piles of cash for Biden.
Trump floats a ‘delay’ in the election. None of his usual allies are on board.
President Trump suggested on Thursday that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed, something he has no authority to order and that top Republicans quickly rejected.
“Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election, and we should go forward,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, dismissed Mr. Trump’s suggestion in an interview with WNKY television in Bowling Green, Ky.
“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, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Mr. McConnell said.
Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who have since become staunch Trump supporters, both dismissed the idea that Election Day could change. Senator Lindsey Graham, Mr. Trump’s foremost public defender in the Senate, said there would be a safe vote in November. And officials in key swing states showed little interest in engaging on the topic.
“We’re going to have an election, it’s going to be legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as it’s always been,” Mr. Rubio told reporters at the Capitol in Washington.
Mr. Cruz agreed. “I think election fraud is a serious problem,” he said. “But, no, we should not delay the election.”
Even for Mr. Trump, suggesting a delay in the election is an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum that will increase the chances that he and his core supporters don’t accept the legitimacy of the election should he lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Former President Barack Obama, delivering the eulogy at Representative John Lewis’s funeral on Thursday, lacerated Mr. Trump over voting rights without naming him, saying the electoral system was under attack.
“Even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws, and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision,” Mr. Obama said. He did not mention Mr. Trump’s suggestion of delaying the election.
Mr. Biden, speaking to Democratic National Committee members and convention delegates on a conference call Thursday, did not address Mr. Trump’s tweet.
Mr. Trump posted to Twitter minutes after the Commerce Department announced that the nation’s gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced, fell 9.5 percent during the three months ending June 30, the largest quarterly drop on record.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Mr. Trump wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
Rather than back off in the face of widespread criticism, Mr. Trump pinned the tweet atop his Twitter profile.
Mr. Trump has no authority to unilaterally change the date of the election, which is set by federal law. His suggestion comes as polls show him trailing far behind Mr. Biden in surveys of nearly all of the key battleground states.
“Only Congress can change the date of our elections, and under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the president’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and the chair of the Administration Committee, which oversees elections.
Other top Democrats reacted with the resigned horror of a party that has for five years faced norm-breaking attacks from Mr. Trump that would have been considered far out of bounds under previous presidents.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi simply quoted Article II in a tweet, while the Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Lily Adams called the president’s remarks “a desperate attempt to distract from today’s devastating economic numbers that make it clear his failed response to the coronavirus has tanked the U.S. economy.”
So far, no major Republican figures have publicly agreed with Mr. Trump’s proposal, though they have avoiding criticizing the president.
“Make no mistake: the election will happen in New Hampshire on November 3rd. End of story,” Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, a Republican who is also facing re-election in November, wrote on Twitter. “Our voting system in NH is secure, safe, and reliable. We have done it right 100% of the time for 100 years — this year will be no different.”
Even Fox News, a loyal Trump ally that the president watches for hours inside the White House, interpreted his proposal as a sign the president is flailing.
“It is a fragrant and flagrant expression of his current weakness,” Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt said during a Fox News broadcast Thursday morning. “A person who is in a strong position would never, never suggest anything like that. So Trump may be making a tactical error here by further telegraphing his weak position in the polls and his weak position for re-election.”
It is unclear how seriously Mr. Trump believes there ought to be discussion about changing the date of the election. He often floats extraordinary proposals only to back off from them after they have dominated cable news cycles.
While the White House has officially denied Mr. Trump has any interest in changing the date of the election from Nov. 3, some of his allies and top aides have on occasion floated the possibility.
The G.O.P. break with Trump on moving the election is a rare party split.
It’s highly unlikely that the general election will be postponed or canceled.
Obama eulogizes John Lewis as a ‘founding father’ for a more perfect union.
Former President Barack Obama eulogized Representative John Lewis at his funeral Thursday at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, calling the civil rights leader “a man of pure joy and unbreakable perseverance” who advanced the cause of racial equality as an activist and a lawmaker.
“America was built by John Lewises,” Mr. Obama said. “He, as much as anyone in our history, brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals.”
He hailed Mr. Lewis as a “founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America” and a “gentle soul” who pulled America “closer to its promise.”
In remarks that blended Mr. Lewis’s place in history with Mr. Obama’s own personal interactions (Mr. Lewis was a “mentor to young people, including me at the time,” Mr. Obama recalled, with a laugh), the former president praised Mr. Lewis’s dedication to civil rights at such an early age.
“The life of John Lewis was in so many ways exceptional,” Mr. Obama said. “It vindicated the faith in our founding, redeemed that faith — that most American of ideas, the idea that any of us, ordinary people without rank or wealth or title or fame, can somehow point out the imperfections of this nation and come together and challenge the status quo and decide that it is in our power to remake this country that we love until it more closely aligns with our highest ideals.”
“What a radical idea,” Mr. Obama went on. “What a revolutionary notion.”
Mr. Obama was the third of three former presidents to speak on Thursday, following Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Mr. Trump did not attend.
Mr. Clinton clearly relished “a chance to say a few words about a man I loved for a long time,” as he put it. “He got into a lot of good trouble, but let’s not forget he also developed an absolutely uncanny ability to heal troubled waters,” Mr. Clinton said of Mr. Lewis. “I suggest we salute, suit up and march on.”
Mr. Bush spoke immediately before Mr. Clinton and praised Mr. Lewis for his belief that “hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope.”
“He believed in humanity and he believed in America,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Lewis, a civil rights icon who represented Atlanta in Congress for more than three decades, died on July 17 at age 80, amid a national reckoning over racism and police brutality. This week, he became the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.
Trump’s speakerphone conversation with a senator in a Washington restaurant is caught on tape.
President Trump called Sen. James Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma, on Wednesday night for a conversation that Mr. Inhofe put on speakerphone to hear better as he sat in a Washington restaurant, Maggie Haberman reports.
The conversation, overheard and recorded by someone in the room, ranged from a discussion about Anthony Tata, the retired Army brigadier general whose nomination for a top Pentagon policy position has become complicated, to Mr. Trump’s desire to preserve the name of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, on a military base.
“We’re gonna keep the name of Robert E. Lee?” Mr. Trump asked Mr. Inhofe, 85, who sat at Trattoria Alberto, a Capitol Hill Italian restaurant that is a favorite haunt of Washington Republicans, as he took the call. Mr. Inhofe put the phone to his ear but put Mr. Trump on speakerphone, and the president’s voice was audible by people sitting at other tables.
Mr. Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, replied, “Just trust me, I’ll make it happen.”
Mr. Trump went on, “I had about 95,000 positive retweets on that. That’s a lot,” appearing to refer to a Twitter post last Friday in which he said that Mr. Inhofe had assured him that he won’t change the names of “military forts and bases” and that the senator “is not a believer in ‘Cancel Culture.’”
Mr. Trump, in the Wednesday night phone call, could be heard criticizing “cancel culture” and then told Mr. Inhofe that people “want to be able to go back to life,” and then appeared to dismiss the focus on the cultural shift taking place across the country with an expletive.
Earlier in the conversation, Mr. Trump and Mr. Inhofe discussed the possibility of someone “resigning” and putting them into another appointment. That appeared to be about Mr. Tata, whose nomination for the Pentagon job has become immersed in criticism over his inflammatory Twitter posts about Muslims, his description of Mr. Obama as a “terrorist leader,” and his embrace of conspiracy theories.
Mr. Inhofe announced on Thursday morning that a hearing scheduled for later in the day to advance Mr. Tata’s nomination would be delayed.
An aide to Mr. Inhofe declined to comment on their conversation. Aides to Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Herman Cain dies after contracting the coronavirus.
Herman Cain, the former pizza executive whose insurgent campaign for president in 2012 catapulted him to fame as an unlikely hero of Tea Party conservatives, died on Thursday after contracting the coronavirus, a former staff member confirmed. He was 74.
Mr. Cain attended Mr. Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., last month and was photographed not wearing a mask, though he said in a video on his website about the rally that he had worn one at times. He tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized in the Atlanta area shortly after.
“People were concerned, because of the media, about whether or not this was going to turn into another uptick in number of cases of Covid-19,” Mr. Cain said in the video. On Twitter, the night of the event, he encouraged attendees to “ignore the outrage” and “shaming.”
Mr. Cain said that all rally participants, including him, had their temperatures checked and that some people had worn masks. Sanitizer stations were scattered throughout the arena.
“Whether or not it’s going to work or not, we don’t know, but the chances are even though it was a crowded room of people, if they took precautions, probably not going to be a big uptick,” he said.
While it is not clear where Mr. Cain contracted the virus, public health officials, who had urged the Trump campaign to call off the rally because of a surge of cases in the state, have said that the event was a likely source of an uptick in cases reported in Tulsa County.
Even after being hospitalized, he tweeted approvingly of masks not being required at Mr. Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech, which occurred nearly two weeks after the Tulsa event. “Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “PEOPLE ARE FED UP!”
Mr. Cain, who was an official surrogate for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, also wrote an op-ed after the rally defending the event, writing, “The media worked very hard to scare people out of attending the Trump campaign rally last Saturday night in Tulsa.”
Mr. Cain’s political ambitions were derailed after women stepped forward and accused him of sexual misconduct. But his political celebrity endured after the election as he brought his folksy, irreverent style — best captured by his so-called “9-9-9” tax plan that would have set corporate, personal income and sales taxes to 9 percent — to Fox News and conservative political conferences across the country.
He caught the eye of a similarly styled political novice, Donald J. Trump, who later considered nominating Mr. Cain to a seat on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. Mr. Trump did not follow through, though Mr. Cain remained a political ally and served on the Trump campaign’s Black Voices for Trump coalition.
Obama unleashes on his successor privately as he raises piles of cash for Biden.
At fund-raising events where he has pulled in more than $24 million for Mr. Biden’s campaign in the last two months, Mr. Obama has privately unleashed on Mr. Trump to party donors, bringing up sexual assault accusations against him and warning of his efforts to push “nativist, racist, sexist” fears and resentments.
With less than 100 days until the election, Mr. Obama has laid out the stakes of 2020 in forceful fashion. He has urged support for Mr. Biden while worrying about the state of American democracy itself, even making an oblique reference to Nazi Germany, according to notes made from recordings of Mr. Obama’s remarks, donors and others who have been on the calls.
Mr. Obama remains one of the Democratic Party’s biggest fund-raising draws. A virtual conversation on Tuesday with the actor George Clooney sold out of tickets that ranged from $250 to as much as $250,000.
Donors who have paid six-figure sums to see Mr. Obama on Zoom — he held two other, more intimate, conversations for donors with Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn and a major Democratic donor, and J.B. Pritzker, the billionaire governor of Illinois — have been privy to wide-ranging question-and-answer sessions with the former president.
During his conversation with Mr. Pritzker, Mr. Obama spoke about how Mr. Trump has a core base that is “just glued to Fox News and Breitbart and Limbaugh and just this conservative echo chamber — and so, they’re going to turn out to vote.”
“What he has unleashed,” Mr. Obama added, “and what he continues to try to tap into is the fears and anger and resentment of people who, in some cases, really are having a tough time and have seen their prospects, or communities where they left, declining. And Trump tries to tap into that and redirect in nativist, racist, sexist ways.”
Why the president’s blunt appeals to suburban voters may not work.
Mr. Trump’s latest campaign ads warn of left-wing mobs destroying American cities. His recent White House comments have depicted a rampage of violence and a “radical movement” to dissolve the police. His Twitter feed has sounded alarms over an Obama-era fair housing rule he has framed as a threat to “The Suburban Housewives of America” and the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream.”
It is a transparent effort to capitalize on what Mr. Trump perceives to be suburban voters’ racist and classist fears. A similar strategy worked for Richard Nixon on the heels of urban unrest in 1968, but there are several reasons to believe it is less likely to be effective for Mr. Trump in 2020.
For one, these are not the American suburbs of the 1960s (and they have a lot fewer housewives). The scale of urban violence and the threats to that suburban lifestyle are a faint echo of Nixon’s time. And while white suburban voters were key to Mr. Trump’s victory in 2016, they now disapprove of the job he is doing — and they disapprove even more of his handling of the very issues he is trying to elevate.
Over all, just 38 percent of voters in the suburbs approve of Mr. Trump’s job performance, compared with 59 percent who disapprove, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll in June. Suburban voters disapproved of Mr. Trump’s handling of recent protests and race relations by an even wider margin, and 65 percent had a favorable view of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mr. Trump vowed on Wednesday to protect suburbanites from low-income housing being built in their neighborhoods, trying to stir up racist fears about affordable housing and the people who live there. In a tweet and later in remarks during a visit to Texas, he painted a false picture of the suburbs as under siege and ravaged by crime.
“People living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream” would “no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood,” he wrote, referring to his administration’s decision last week to roll back an Obama-era program intended to combat racial segregation.
Bloomberg’s gun control group will release new ads geared toward Latinos in swing states.
Nearly a year after the El Paso shooting, the deadliest anti-Latino attack in modern American history, Michael R. Bloomberg’s gun control organization is releasing new advertisements directed toward Latino voters in battleground states including Texas, Arizona and Florida.
The group, Everytown for Gun Safety, said it planned to spend more than $2 million on digital, radio and television advertising in both English and Spanish, starting in Texas.
The group’s advertising criticizes Mr. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, for not doing more to enact stricter gun control laws since the El Paso attack, accusing them of “empty words and empty promises.” The police said that the suspect in the shooting told them he had been targeting Mexicans and that he had left a manifesto saying he was carrying out the attack in “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
“Victory for gun sense candidates up and down the ballot is impossible without the support of Latino voters,” said Charlie Kelly, a senior adviser to the group, Everytown for Gun Safety. “We’re making it a priority to reach the Latino community this cycle with gun safety messages that we know will resonate.”
The group also released new polling showing that Latino voters are more likely to support gun control measures enthusiastically than they were before the El Paso shooting. More than two-thirds of Latino voters said they would not vote for a candidate who does not support background checks on all gun sales and indicated the issue is equally important as health care, job creation, racial equity and protecting children at the border, according to the poll, which was conducted by Equis Research, a Washington-based firm that focuses on Latino voters.
Another Florida poll shows Biden in front.
A survey released on Thursday by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found Mr. Biden ahead of Mr. Trump in Florida by a margin of 50 to 46 percent, just within the margin of error of four percentage points, with 4 percent of respondents undecided.
It is the latest in a string of polls showing Mr. Biden in front of Mr. Trump in the president’s adopted home state, the nation’s largest battleground.
The Mason-Dixon poll, which surveyed 625 registered voters by phone from July 20-23, shows Mr. Biden beating Mr. Trump among independents, women, Black and Hispanic people, and younger voters, while Mr. Trump leads among men, white people and older voters.
An earlier poll by Quinnipiac University showed the former vice president leading Mr. Trump by 13 percentage points, significantly outside the margin of error — a worrisome sign for Mr. Trump in a state he won four years ago.
In that July 23 poll, 51 percent of respondents supported Mr. Biden, compared with 38 percent who supported Mr. Trump; the margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Larry Household is indicted on racketeering charges and removed as Ohio’s House speaker.
A federal grand jury has indicted Larry Householder, the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, as well as four others on racketeering charges in what federal officials described as a $60 million scheme to bail out a foundering energy company.
Shortly after the indictment was announced on Thursday, the State House voted 90-0 to remove Mr. Householder, a Republican, as speaker.
In a criminal complaint last week, the F.B.I. described a wide-ranging conspiracy in which an energy company, FirstEnergy Corp., and some of its subsidiaries, helped finance Mr. Householder’s 2019 election as House speaker. According to the complaint, the company bankrolled an effort led by Mr. Householder to pass the $1.3 billion bill that subsidized two of its troubled nuclear power plants, and then also financed a campaign to defeat a referendum to repeal the measure.
Mr. Householder and the four others who were arrested — including a former head of the state’s Republican Party — face up to 20 years in prison.
When the criminal complaint was unsealed, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, David M. DeVillers, said that the conspiracy was “likely the largest bribery, money-laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the State of Ohio.”
Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, called for the bailout bill to be repealed and then replaced in a process involving greater public vetting.
“The most important thing is that the public have confidence in the process,” Mr. DeWine said in a news conference last week.
Mr. DeWine has also called on Mr. Householder to resign, though Mr. Householder previously told reporters that he was not planning to leave office.
An arrest has been made in the suspected arson at the Arizona Democrats’ headquarters.
A man accused of setting a fire to the Arizona Democratic Party headquarters this month was arrested on Wednesday, the authorities said.
The man, Matthew Egler, 29, was arrested on a charge of arson of an occupied structure, the Phoenix Police Department said. Mr. Egler, the police said, was a former volunteer at the office but had been recently barred from volunteer service.
It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer, or why he had been barred from volunteering.
The fire took place after midnight on July 24 at the party’s offices in downtown Phoenix, causing damage but no injuries.
The Phoenix police said that Mr. Egler had posted information on social media that linked him to the fire. Investigators were also able to connect a car seen in a surveillance video from that night to a relative of Mr. Egler. The video showed a man arriving in the car and breaking glass to get into the building.
“We are deeply saddened and shocked by today’s news, but appreciate the swift action by law enforcement to ensure that the suspect is in custody,” the Arizona Democratic Party said in a statement.
Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Emily Badger, Luke Broadwater, Alexander Burns, Emily Cochrane, Nate Cohn, Johnny Diaz, Reid J. Epstein, Sydney Ember, Robert Gebeloff, Katie Glueck, Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, Patricia Mazzei, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Jennifer Medina, Jeremy W. Peters, Matt Stevens and Glenn Thrush.