Jared Kushner Won’t Say for Sure Whether the Election Will Happen in November, as If That’s a Thing He Has a Say In
In an interview with TIME, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and unqualified advisor Jared Kushner was asked whether there was a chance the presidential election could be postponed and he refused to rule the idea out entirely.
Kushner told TIME’s senior White House correspondent Brian Bennett that that isn’t his decision (and it’s not! So why are we asking him about this or literally anything?!) but that he’s not 100% sure because “that’s too far in the future to tell.”
“I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan,” he said super casually.
Jared Kushner talks about the prospect of canceling an election as casually as most people do about their dinner plans https://t.co/moRgAD95Rf
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 13, 2020
As the New York Times notes, it’s a strange question for Kushner to be asked because “The opinion of a White House staff member has no bearing on when the election is held. Even the president himself does not have the authority to unilaterally postpone Election Day, which by law takes place the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.”
Still, time and again, Trump has pushed the limits of his power only to get absolutely no resistance from Republicans in Congress and support from a complicit Justice Department.
Postponing the election definitely seems like something he would consider trying to do—especially since the great economy he claims to have created was supposed to be the linchpin to his re-election campaign. Now that we’re facing Depression-era-unemployment numbers (not to mention our mounting death toll), he has to be worried and looking for a way out of a tough and critical election season.
Kushner’s statement reveals amazing ignorance of the Constitution and law. It reveals startling arrogance in taking for granted he gets to have some say about when the election is held. It also reveals an utter lack of understanding of his very subordinate role in our democracy. https://t.co/3omqhZYNsM
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 13, 2020
I’m sorry. So we’re setting aside Art II section 1 of the Constitution and the federal statute 3 U.S.C. section 1 to let Jared Kushner decide whether we will hold our presidential election this November? Even putting this question to him is an insult to the rule of law. https://t.co/5B1xNDA5cm
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) May 12, 2020
I can’t believe I have to write this sentence, but the president’s son-in-law doesn’t get to decide when the election is. https://t.co/7CrpHny6TF
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 13, 2020
Constitutionally speaking, Trump cannot move the date of an election. (And Jared Kushner definitely can’t.) But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t try. And there are other ways to dismantle an election besides outright moving or canceling it.
Trump has been sowing seeds of delegitimizing the election process for a while now. For years, in fact, he’s been claiming that the 2016 election was overrun with voter fraud and that he managed to win in spite of it. (There’s absolutely no evidence of that being true, by the way.)
CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote back in March of this year that there is a “clear pattern” to the rhetoric Trump and his surrogates use when talking about the 2020 election: “Convince the Trump base that it is not possible for him to lose a fair and legitimate election in 2020. Thus, if he loses, it must be, by definition, illegitimate.”
At a virtual fundraiser last month, Joe Biden said he thinks Trump will try something going into November. “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow—come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” he said.
Lately, Trump has been attacking mail-in voting—which very well might be our primary form of voting in November—as being “rampant with fraud.” That’s simply not true, but Trump keeps repeating it because he wants his supporters to believe that a Democratic win in November could never be 100% trusted as being legitimate. He, like Fox News, is disturbingly good at the repeat-it-till-they-believe-it maneuver.
So yes, it’s weird that Jared Kushner is being asked this question and his casual, noncommital response could have just been because he didn’t know the answer. Maybe he didn’t know that the constitution prohibits him and his wife’s dad from moving the election—and yes, that’s the kind of thing a senior White House advisor should know but at this point, maybe ignorance is worse than malice. It’s tough to tell with this crowd sometimes.
(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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