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Trump's Suggestion To Delay The Election Causes Extreme Concern

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's not something he can do, but the mere suggestion by President Trump about changing the election date is causing extreme concern. He tweeted, quote, "Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" - followed by three question marks. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the idea in an interview with WNKY 40.

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MITCH MCCONNELL: 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 November 3.

MARTIN: We're going to talk about Republican reaction to the president's suggestion with Sarah Longwell. She's the executive director of Republicans for the Rule of Law. Good morning, Sarah. Thanks for being back on the show.

SARAH LONGWELL: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: I'm going to read the president's entire tweet and then ask you about it. He says, quote, "With universal mail-in voting - parentheses - not absentee voting, which is good - 2020 will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history." And then he goes on to suggest that delay that we talked about. You have said everything in his tweet is a lie. Walk us through that.

LONGWELL: Well, first of all, like you said, Trump cannot change the date of the election. The date of the election is constitutionally mandated and ultimately under the purview of Congress. But the - you know, the bigger issue is honestly the vote by mail and the fraud. I mean, I really think there's two things going on here in terms of why Trump said this tweet. The first is that the president is trying to change the subject away from yesterday's historically bad GDP numbers, which came out, you know, just shortly and coincidentally before his tweet. And there are plenty of other stories that he wants to distract from at the moment, whether it's the Russian bounties or his bad polling, etc.

The president's always had kind of a low cunning when it comes to understanding how to control narratives. So this looks like a classic case of calculated misdirection. But the bigger goal, I think, is about generally sowing distrust in the outcome of the election and laying the potential groundwork to either dispute the results or claim it was rigged so that he can be, you know, perpetually aggrieved if he loses. We saw the president do this in 2016. And, you know, he really only has a few plays in his playbook, and he tends to run them over and over again.

But I think that it's - you know, everybody sort of reacted to the idea that he was talking about delaying the election. But I think what's most concerning is just this general trying to undermine, you know, confidence in the upcoming election because that is - that's scary at a time when the election is going to look different to people because we're in the midst of a pandemic, because there'll be so many mail-in ballots.

MARTIN: Well, let me ask you about Republican response. I mean, we played that McConnell clip. We also heard Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas say, hey, this is just the president trolling the press. But yesterday, the co-founder of the Federalist Society, Steven Calabresi, wrote this op-ed in The New York Times saying that this is grounds for immediate impeachment. And Calabresi is someone who has supported Trump a lot in the past.

LONGWELL: Yeah. You know, while there were no profiles in courage from the Senate Republicans who should have issued clear, thorough repudiation of his comment, the one real bright spot was that the founder of the Federalist Society came out and just in no uncertain terms condemned this, called it fascist, said that the president - it would be warranted for him to be impeached again. That is strong language. I think that sends a really strong message to the conservative legal community that nobody should be defending this kind of behavior and that the highest levels of sort of conservative legal ethics would not agree with anybody defending this.

MARTIN: Sarah Longwell, the executive director of Republicans for the Rule of Law. Thank you very much, Sarah. We appreciate it.

LONGWELL: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.