USAToday reports Sen. Kamala Harris tore into President Donald Trump Wednesday night for his threat to withhold federal funds from states over absentee ballots, warning such an act would be illegal.
“Mr. President, it is a federal crime to withhold money from states with the purpose of interfering with people’s right to vote,” the former California attorney general told MSNBC host Joy Reid.
“So, you may want to talk to your lawyer, Bill Barr, about that,” Harris added, in an apparent swipe at the independence of Attorney General William Barr, whom critics have accused of acting more like the president’s personal attorney than the nation’s top law enforcement official.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 21, 2020
On Wednesday morning, Trump said in a tweet that Michigan had sent millions of voters absentee ballots “illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State.”
“I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” wrote the president, who has railed against efforts to expand mail-in-voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The president was referring to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s announcement on Tuesday that absentee ballot applications – not actual ballots – would be sent to all of the state’s 7.7 million voters, giving them the option to receive a ballot in the mail to vote in the Aug. 4 primary and Nov. 3 general election, rather than going to a polling place.
While it is illegal in Michigan to send absentee ballots to voters who do not formally request them, it is far from clear that there are the same legal hurdles to sending applications for the absentee ballots to registered voters, though it could be challenged in court.
Trump later deleted the initial tweet to clarify he was referring to applications, and not ballots, though that was the only aspect of the tweet he changed.
Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020