WASHINGTON – With the Nov. 3 election approaching, the White House is fielding questions over President Donald Trump’s comments on double voting, the coronavirus and using access to federal funding to attack Democrats.
After asking his supporters in North Carolina to vote twice to test the mail-in system, Trump said Thursday that what he meant to say was that people who vote early by absentee ballot should go to polling places to verify if their vote was tabulated.
Karen Brinson, the North Carolina State Board of Elections’ executive director, released a statement saying voting twice is a felony. Josh Stein, North Carolina’s attorney general, accused Trump of asking his supporters to “break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election.”
During an interview with CNN, Attorney General William Barr said he didn’t know the election laws in every state. Florida prohibits voting twice in the same election and doing so is a felony of the third degree. Barr did have a controversial warning about Trump’s voting-by-mail fraud fears.
“Elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion,” Barr said.
Based on the massive number of Unsolicited & Solicited Ballots that will be sent to potential Voters for the upcoming 2020 Election, & in order for you to MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE COUNTS & IS COUNTED, SIGN & MAIL IN your Ballot as EARLY as possible. On Election Day, or Early Voting,..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was not advocating for breaking the law since “the president does not condone unlawful voting.”
The Republican Party and Trump’s reelection campaign filed a lawsuit against the state of Montana on Wednesday after the state allowed residents to vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.
The discourse continues to be in line with a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warning about Russian efforts to plant mistrust in the electoral process.
LAW AND ORDER
My Administration will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses. We’re putting them on notice today. @RussVought45— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
After Trump ordered agencies to look into ways to cut federal funding from Democratically run cities such as New York City, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Portland, Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded.
“He better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the street in New York,” Cuomo said. “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City.”
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Herd immunity is when a contagious virus can no longer spread easily because at least 70% of the population is immune after vaccination. It’s unclear what the percentage should be with the coronavirus.
Democrats are also criticizing Trump over his use of the often misunderstood epidemiological term. In the case of COVID-19 survivors, research suggests reinfection is possible.
Dr. Scott Atlas, a White House adviser who is not an expert on infectious diseases, told Fox News herd immunity by infection is not a strategy the White House has adopted.
Atlas’ comments come after Trump told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham during an interview that herd immunity is possible in the United States.
“Once you get to a certain number, it’s going to go away,” Trump said.
RUSH TO RELEASE VACCINE
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is among the Democrats who are also worried about the Trump administration rushing an unsafe vaccine to win votes.
“Too much of the evidence points to the Trump administration pressuring the FDA to approve a vaccine by Election Day to boost the president’s reelection campaign,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer aid in a statement. “This raises serious safety concerns about politics, not science and public health, driving the decision making process.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Thursday that “a vaccine would not be approved for the American public unless it was indeed both safe and effective.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the administration “will not in any way sacrifice safety.” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also said the rush to release a coronavirus vaccine has nothing to do with Nov. 3.
The CDC contracted McKesson Corp., a Texas-based corporation, to coordinate the distribution of the vaccine around the country when it’s ready.
“I would hope that the federal government would kind of take the lead on that,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday. “Hopefully they have a plan to do it and will really focus on those vulnerable among us.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Aug. 11 that a coronavirus vaccine was ready for distribution. Venezuela and Cuba are among the countries waiting for the Russian vaccine.
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Local 10 News Digital Reporter/Producer Andrea Torres reported from Miami.