Trump wants to ‘delay’ US election
US President Donald Trump has used social media to suggest postponing the November election.
Citing concerns about "inaccurate and fraudulent" mail-in voting due to coronavirus shutdowns, Mr Trump said on Twitter on Thursday local time that he was considering a delay "until people can properly, securely and safely" vote.
The controversial post was widely seen as an attempt to distract from the release of the worst economic results in US history and his plummeting polls.
The US economy shrank almost 9.5 per cent from April to June, or 32.9 per cent annualised, as COVID-19 shuttered businesses and shred tens of millions of jobs across the country to bring unemployment to 14.7 per cent.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to surge across the country, which has recorded 150,000 fatalities and accounts for more a quarter of the worldwide deaths.
Senior Republicans rejected Mr Trump's suggestion to move the election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "We'll cope with whatever the situation is and have the election on November 3 as already scheduled".
"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," Mr McConnell said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he was aware of Mr Trump's concerns about voter fraud, but said: "Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election and we should go forward".
And Ted Cruz, who challenged Mr Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016 said: "I think election fraud is a serious problem. But no, we should not delay the election."
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
It would not be possible for Mr Trump or Republicans to unilaterally move the election, as its date of the Tuesday after the first Monday every fourth November is written into federal law.
The January 20 inauguration date is also in the constitution, and no president has delayed an election throughout wars and the Great Depression.
Both sides of Congress would need to agree to any postponement and with Democrats holding the balance of power in the House, this is considered all but impossible.
However, the post drew quick condemnation, with Mr Trump's enemies saying it was proof he intended to contest the results of the presidential election.
Mr Trump posted: "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"
Mr Trump has recently stepped up his criticism of postal voting as open to fraud, a claim for which he has not offered compelling evidence.
Mr Trump is trailing his opponent Joe Biden by double digits nationally and by a smaller margin in some swing states seen as key to his taking a second term.
Polls in 2016 almost universally predicted a victory for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Mr Trump regularly derides their accuracy.
Originally published as Trump wants to 'delay' US election