[guest post by Dana]
Unsurprising that he would say this, given that he has repeatedly attempted to undermine the integrity of the election and issued warnings about a “rigged election,” fraudulent mail-in voting, and voter fraud:
President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would send law enforcement officials to polling locations to guard against voter fraud in November’s election, although it’s not clear he has the authority to do so.
“We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to have, hopefully, US attorneys, and we’re going to have everybody and attorney generals (sic),” Trump said during an interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity.
Trump’s comments come as his campaign works to recruit tens of thousands of volunteers for what Republican officials have said could be their largest poll-watching operation. Even before Trump’s comments, his party’s plans to monitor the polls have sparked charges from Democrats and voting-rights groups that Republicans are gearing up to suppress voting in key states.
Trump says that on election day he's going to send law enforcement to polling locations pic.twitter.com/OpaYvUBY8P
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) August 21, 2020
In typical Trump fashion, the President has made a claim without first doing his homework, as law professor Steve Vladeck points out:
Federal law expressly prohibits any federal officer from sending “troops or armed men” to any polling place “unless such force be necessary to repel armed enemies of the United States.”
So what Trump is proposing is not just offensive; it’s also illegal.
Vladek references 18 U.S. Code § 592:
Troops at polls U.S. Code
Whoever, being an officer of the Army or Navy, or other person in the civil, military, or naval service of the United States, orders, brings, keeps, or has under his authority or control any troops or armed men at any place where a general or special election is held, unless such force be necessary to repel armed enemies of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both; and be disqualified from holding any office of honor, profit, or trust under the United States.
This section shall not prevent any officer or member of the armed forces of the United States from exercising the right of suffrage in any election district to which he may belong, if otherwise qualified according to the laws of the State in which he offers to vote.
If Trump deployed law enforcement officers to polling sites around the country, how would it not result in legal action from Democrats and how would it not be seen as a direct effort to inhibit, intimidate, and suppress voters?
With that, the White House continues to fortify its position in a pre-emptive strike of casting doubt on the integrity of election if Trump loses:
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not commit President Trump to accepting the results of the presidential election, saying the president has been clear that he will “see what happens” in November.
Her comment in a White House news conference came after the president cast doubt on the election results on Monday, when he said, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”
On Wednesday, McEnany was asked if that comment means the president will not accept the election results if he loses.
“Is the president saying if he doesn’t win this election that he will not accept the results, unless he wins?” an ABC News journalist asked.
“The president has always said he’ll see what happens, and make a determination in the aftermath. It’s the same thing he said last November. He wants a free election, a fair election, and he wants confidence in the results of the election,” McEnany responded, before criticizing states with mass mail-in voting.
The president did indeed give a similar answer in a recent interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who asked the president if he would commit to accepting the election results.
“I have to see. Look, you — I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes.’ I’m not going to say no and I didn’t last time either,” the president said during the interview.
Lining up his ducks, given there are only 74 days until the election.