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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 5)

Birx Says U.S. Coronavirus Epidemic Is in a New Phase

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Westlake Legal Group merlin_175125270_9d6d3346-1690-42d2-ae22-9034fc49dbd5-facebookJumbo Birx Says U.S. Coronavirus Epidemic Is in a New Phase your-feed-healthcare United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Medicine and Health Masks Health and Human Services Department Giroir, Brett P Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Contact Tracing (Public Health) Birx, Deborah L

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus coordinator, said on Sunday that the nation was in a “new phase” of the coronavirus epidemic that was much more sprawling across the country than last spring’s outbreaks in major cities like New York and Seattle.

She recommended that people living in communities where cases are surging should consider wearing a mask at home, if they live with someone who is especially vulnerable because of age or underlying medical conditions.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April — it is extraordinarily widespread,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union” news program. “It’s into the rural as equal urban areas. So everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune.”

Dr. Birx emphasized the significance of asymptomatic transmission, and said that the White House coronavirus task force was working to make sure Americans in affected communities understood this risk. “If you have an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive if you have individuals in your home with comorbidities,” like respiratory problems or diabetes.

Dr. Birx said that, in her recent travels, she had seen “all of America moving,” making it doubly important for people to understand the attendant risks, given that cases have surged in many popular holiday destinations. “If you’ve chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and assume you’re infected,” she said.

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Updated 2020-08-02T17:52:35.962Z

Infected people without symptoms can unwittingly seed numerous chains of infection. “By the time you wait for someone to come forward to the emergency room, you have widespread community spread,” Dr. Birx said.

In some communities seeing recent outbreaks, household transmission has been a huge factor, public health experts say.

Both she and Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, emphasized the importance of prevention methods, like wide-scale mask-wearing, hand-washing, and avoiding crowded indoor spaces like bars or restaurants and mass social gatherings.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Admiral Giroir said on Sunday that some of the efforts seemed to be helping in recent weeks to reduce the number of cases in Arizona, as well as in communities in Texas and Florida — all states that have been hard-hit this summer.

He repeatedly pointed to mask-wearing as perhaps the single-most effective preventive measure in communities experiencing outbreaks. “Wearing a mask is incredibly important but we have to have like 85 or 90 percent of individuals wearing a mask and avoiding crowds,” he said. “That is essentially — gives you the same outcome as a complete shutdown.”

Asked if he was recommending a national mask mandate, Admiral Giroir said, “The public health message is we’ve got to have mask-wearing.” He added: “If we don’t do that, and if we don’t limit the indoor crowded spaces, the virus will continue to run.”

Another guest on CNN on Sunday, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said that, in many areas where cases are surging, the availability of tests was badly lagging. “In 18, 20 states, the number of tests being done is actually falling and falling because our testing system is under such strain that we just can’t even deliver the test today that we were doing two weeks ago,” he said. “That’s very concerning because when cases are rising, and your number of tests are falling, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Admiral Giroir defended the nation’s testing program, noting it has exponentially been increased in recent months although there are still delays in getting results. He said that both testing and contact tracing efforts were crucial responses, but not particularly helpful in large, communitywide outbreaks.

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“When you have a widespread, multifocal outbreak where many people are asymptomatic, testing and tracing are of limited utility versus public health policy measures like mask-wearing, like closing indoor crowded spaces,” Admiral Giroir said. “So, yes, contact tracing is important, but it’s much less important right now than the public policy mitigation measures.”

The admiral, a pediatrician, cautioned that there was still plenty of disinformation circulating on social media. Decisions by most doctors who prescribe drugs were “evidence-based and not influenced by whatever’s on Twitter or anything else,” he said. Asked about hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that President Trump continues to promote, Dr. Giroir was firm: “At this point in time, there’s been five randomized control, placebo-controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine. So at this point in time, we don’t recommend that as a treatment.”

He added that it was time to “move on” from hydroxychloroquine, and stressed that there are treatments showing more promise. The antiviral drug remdesivir, for example, has been shown to shorten recovery times in severely ill patients, and the steroid dexamethasone lowers the death risk among patients on ventilators. Administration officials have also been promoting the use of convalescent plasma as a potential treatment, although it is still unclear whether it will work against the virus, as well as giving billions of federal dollars to several drug companies that are pursuing vaccines on an accelerated timetable.

Still, despite encouraging signs in some states fighting to contain the recent outbreaks, Admiral Giroir said, the true cost of those infections will only be clear in the weeks to come. “We are very concerned and this is a very serious point,” he said, “and deaths will continue to increase for the next few weeks” because deaths tend to lag behind case counts.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

U.S. Small Business Bailout Money Flowed to Chinese-Owned Companies

Westlake Legal Group u-s-small-business-bailout-money-flowed-to-chinese-owned-companies U.S. Small Business Bailout Money Flowed to Chinese-Owned Companies United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Treasury Department Stimulus (Economic) Social Media Small Business Law and Legislation Horizon Advisory Embargoes and Sanctions Economic Conditions and Trends Corporations Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (2020) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China
Westlake Legal Group 02dc-pppchina-facebookJumbo U.S. Small Business Bailout Money Flowed to Chinese-Owned Companies United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Treasury Department Stimulus (Economic) Social Media Small Business Law and Legislation Horizon Advisory Embargoes and Sanctions Economic Conditions and Trends Corporations Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (2020) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

WASHINGTON — President Trump has blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, but as the White House looks to stabilize small businesses in the United States, the rescue effort has had an unintended beneficiary: Chinese companies.

Millions of dollars of American taxpayer money have flowed to China from the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program that was created in March to be a lifeline for struggling small businesses in the United States. But because the economic relief legislation allowed American subsidiaries of foreign firms to receive the loans, a substantial chunk of the money went to America’s biggest economic rival, a new analysis shows.

According to a review of publicly available loan data by the strategy consulting firm Horizon Advisory, $192 million to $419 million has gone to more than 125 companies that Chinese entities own or invest in. Many of the loans were quite sizable; at least 32 Chinese companies received loans worth more than $1 million, with those totaling as much as $180 million.

“The extent and nature of P.R.C.-owned, -invested and -connected entities among the P.P.P. loan recipients indicate that without appropriate policy guardrails, U.S. tax dollars intended for relief, recovery and growth of the U.S. economy — and small businesses in particular — risk supporting foreign competitors, namely China,” wrote Emily de La Bruyère and Nathan Picarsic, the co-founders of Horizon Advisory, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

The revelation that Chinese-backed companies were helped by American tax dollars come as relations between the United States and China have deteriorated in recent months. Mr. Trump has regularly vented his anger at China and accused it of spreading a virus that has left the once-thriving United States economy in tatters.

“It’s China’s fault,” he said on Friday. “China should be paying for it, and maybe they will.”

The virus has emboldened the administration’s hawks in their calls for both punishing China and decoupling the world’s two largest economies, saying Beijing poses a national security threat. The administration in recent weeks has sanctioned Chinese officials accused of facilitating human rights violations in the Xinjiang region and banned more Chinese technology companies from buying American technology and components.

The White House is also nearing a decision that could force ByteDance, a Chinese firm, to sell the U.S. operations of the social media app TikTok over national security concerns.

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Updated 2020-08-02T12:03:05.101Z

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” the president said on Friday.

But the administration’s aggressive approach to China did not stop companies with ties to Beijing from benefiting from one of the main programs intended to prop up the United States economy.

The Paycheck Protection Program, which was created as part of a $2.2 trillion relief package signed in March, was devised to help small businesses with fewer than 500 workers cover payrolls and overhead expenses while much of the economy was shuttered. When big publicly traded companies that had access to other forms of capital took out P.P.P. loans, the Trump administration publicly shamed them and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged them to repay the money, saying they could face criminal liability if they did not qualify for the loans.

But the rules of the program also allowed American subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies to apply for and receive loans.

The Horizon Advisory report, which analyzed public filings and loan data that was released by the Treasury Department in June, does not claim to be an exhaustive account of the more than five million loans that were initiated through the program. The data released by the Treasury Department, for instance, shared loan amounts in ranges only for businesses that borrowed more than $150,000, and information for private firms that took smaller loans was released only in aggregate.

Among the companies highlighted in the report were Continental Aerospace Technologies, which received a loan of up to $10 million, and Aviage Systems, which received a loan of up to $350,000. The companies are owned by Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a state-owned conglomerate that the Department of Defense classified this year as a Chinese military company.

HNA Group North America LLC and HNA Training Center NY, subsidiaries of China’s HNA Group, both received loans of up to $1 million. HNA Group specializes in real estate, aviation and financial services transactions and is part of the Fortune Global 500.

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And BGI Americas Corporation, which is a subsidiary of the Chinese gene-testing giant BGI Group, took a loan of up to $1 million. The company, which is building a gene bank in Xinjiang, did return the money, however, after Axios reported on the loan.

Larger loans went to businesses that spanned critical sectors such as pharmaceuticals, defense, advanced manufacturing, electric cars and information technology. In each case, the United States was indirectly funding the kinds of corporations whose owners the Trump administration regularly accuses of intellectual property theft.

For example, Dendreon Pharmaceuticals, a California-based biotech company, received a loan worth $5 million to $10 million. It is owned by Nanjing Xinbai, a Chinese state-invested company whose controlling shareholder has close ties to the Communist Party.

Money from the Paycheck Protection Program has also made its way to the financial technology sector. Citcon USA LLC, a Silicon Valley mobile payments firm, received $150,000 to $350,000 in loan money. ZhenFund is a major investor; the company connects American companies to Chinese payment platforms such as Alipay and WeChat, which could also face restrictions from the Trump administration.

Taken together, the loans show the deep ties that remain between American and Chinese businesses despite years of rising tension, and how the rush to prop up the United States economy inadvertently aided Chinese investors.

Lawmakers and the Trump administration are in the process of negotiating how to recalibrate the small business lending program in an upcoming economic relief package. A provision of the bill proposed last week by Senate Republicans would make businesses that are partially owned by Chinese companies or that have a Chinese resident on the board of directors ineligible for the next round of loan money. It is uncertain whether such a provision might make it to a final bill.

A Treasury spokeswoman noted that the Small Business Administration might review any of the loans administered through the program and deny forgiveness if it turned out that the borrower was not eligible or misrepresented their business in the loan application.

The White House had no comment on the loans.

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A Better Year for Trump’s Family Business (Last Year, That Is)

Before the coronavirus ripped through the country, upending President Trump’s family business and the broader hospitality industry, the company last year showed modest gains, according to Mr. Trump’s annual financial disclosure report released late Friday.

The disclosure report, which offers the only official public detailing of the president’s personal finances, had been delayed for months after Mr. Trump received two extensions.

The delay came in part based on questions the Office of Government Ethics had raised about, among other issues, the value of pro bono legal work provided to the president by Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, according to people with knowledge of the delay.

As the United States economy was humming in 2019, the Trump Organization reported revenues of at least $446.3 million, up more than 2 percent from $434.9 million, in 2018. In 2017, he reported at least $452.6 million in revenues.

All told, the report shows that last year’s revenues, while an improvement over 2018, still reflect the toll Mr. Trump’s divisive presidency has taken on his brand.

The president reported assets worth at least $1.35 billion, down narrowly from 2018 and 2017.

In a statement, Eric Trump, the president’s son and a senior executive at the company, called it a “fantastic year for our country and one of the best years in the history of The Trump Organization.”

While providing no specific historic comparisons for the privately held company, he described the revenue as “strong” and noted that the company has “very low levels of debt.”

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Over all, the company’s golf business performed well — a number of properties registered double-digit revenue gains — and Eric Trump emphasized that “our core businesses were up considerably year-over-year.”

The report also includes the unusual disclosure by the president that the Office of Government Ethics had pressed him to address the free legal services provided by Mr. Giuliani over the last two years. Some legal experts had argued Mr. Trump had potentially broken the rules by not disclosing the gift last year.

“Although we did not believe and do not believe that any pro bono publico counsel is reportable as a ‘gift,’ at the request of OGE, we note that as has been widely reported in the media, Rudy Giuliani provided such pro bono publico counsel in 2018 and 2019,” the report says, referring to pro bono legal services and the Office of Government Ethics.

Normally, if such a gift of free legal services has been provided, the federal government official is required to disclose the value of the gift. Mr. Trump declined to do so, with the disclosure report saying “Mr. Giuliani is not able to estimate the value” of the services, so “therefore, the value is unascertainable.”

The disclosure, required every year under federal ethics rules, was originally due on May 15. The White House blamed the delay on the coronavirus pandemic, but it also followed conversations between ethics officials and representatives for Mr. Trump about a draft of the filing, including the discussions over Mr. Giuliani’s free legal work, according to the people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_171801513_5a7a7dbd-af33-49c4-b0d0-a1f0fe7b65ef-articleLarge A Better Year for Trump’s Family Business (Last Year, That Is) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump Organization Shutdowns (Institutional) Real Estate (Commercial) Hotels and Travel Lodgings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Company Reports
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

The 78-page disclosure was the sixth by Mr. Trump since he announced his candidacy for president in 2015.

Unlike the past six presidents, Mr. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, leaving additional gaps in the public record of his finances, and even went to court to block their release. The Supreme Court ruled in early July that congressional Democrats could not, at least for now, see some of the president’s financial documents, likely shielding the records from public view before the election.

For much of Mr. Trump’s presidency, his family business was stuck in neutral. The family name was stripped from several properties. The pipeline of potential new deals had dried up. And Mr. Trump’s polarizing politics had generated a red-blue divide among many properties, leaving his hotel in Chicago struggling, for instance, while his golf club in North Carolina thrived.

Results were mixed once again last year, according to the disclosure statement.

Revenues grew about 2 percent at both the North Carolina club, and at Trump National Doral Miami, the company’s biggest money generator. The resort, which includes a hotel and four golf courses, had been particularly stung by the divide over the president’s politics, as revenues sagged after his election. Another golf club, at Bedminster, N.J. — which Mr. Trump often visits during the summer — saw revenues rise by 12.6 percent, while his club in Jupiter, Fla., was up 11.9 percent.

But at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., where Mr. Trump often spends time during the winter months, revenues were $21.4 million, down 5.5 percent from 2018, continuing a downward trend from 2017.

At the Trump International Hotel in Washington, just blocks from the White House, revenues were $40.5 million, falling just shy of 1 percent from 2018.

Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

At the company’s only remaining New York hotel, on Central Park West, revenue on the commercial space was between $1 million and $5 million, the same range as reported for 2018. Last year, the company agreed to downsize the “Trump” signs on the premises after some owners of the adjoining condominium tower complained that the branding was hurting their property values.

At best, the disclosure provides a general view of Mr. Trump’s business interests. Such statements offer inexact accounting, as dollar amounts are often reported in ranges, and they do not reflect profits or losses, making it difficult to assess the bottom line.

The report, for example, does not fully reflect the revenues from a pair of office towers in New York and California, where Mr. Trump is a partial owner. Both properties have been a substantial source of revenue in recent years, making up for weaknesses in other business lines.

The financial disclosure report was also a relic of the past long before it was released. Less than three months into the new year, the pandemic began wreaking havoc on millions of businesses across the nation. Mr. Trump’s company — with deep interests in hospitality and commercial real estate, two of the hardest-hit sectors — has been no exception, closing its clubs and resorts, laying off or furloughing workers, and clipping health care benefits for some.

Even as the company reopened the Doral resort, a move that was expected to breathe some new life into the business, new cases of the coronavirus were spiking in surrounding Miami-Dade County, demonstrating the power of the pandemic to disrupt any recovery.

Reflecting the turmoil, the Trump Organization sought to reduce or delay its payments on certain loans from Deutsche Bank, including about $125 million the company borrowed when it was buying Doral in 2012, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The bank agreed to a break, in line with those offered to other borrowers, but the Trump Organization concluded that the offer was not worth taking and turned it down, the people said.

Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Real estate analysts have predicted that the hotel sector will not fully recover until late 2023, and data shows that luxury hotels, including the seven Trump-branded hotels in the United States, have been the hardest hit by the continued industry depression.

The disclosure shows the Trump Organization’s debt remained unchanged from the previous year.

Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Eric Lipton contributed reporting.

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Mail Delays Fuel Concern Trump Is Undercutting Postal System Ahead of Voting

WASHINGTON — Welcome to the next election battleground: the post office.

President Trump’s yearslong assault on the Postal Service and his increasingly dire warnings about the dangers of voting by mail are colliding as the presidential campaign enters its final months. The result has been to generate new concerns about how he could influence an election conducted during a pandemic in which greater-than-ever numbers of voters will submit their ballots by mail.

In tweet after all-caps tweet, Mr. Trump has warned that allowing people to vote by mail will result in a “CORRUPT ELECTION” that will “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY” and become the “SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES.” He has predicted that children will steal ballots out of mailboxes. On Thursday, he dangled the idea of delaying the election instead.

Members of Congress and state officials in both parties rejected the president’s suggestion and his claim that mail-in ballots would result in widespread fraud. But they are warning that a huge wave of ballots could overwhelm mail carriers unless the Postal Service, in financial difficulty for years, receives emergency funding that Republicans are blocking during negotiations over another pandemic relief bill.

At the same time, the mail system is being undercut in ways set in motion by Mr. Trump. Fueled by animus for Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and surrounded by advisers who have long called for privatizing the post office, Mr. Trump and his appointees have begun taking cost-cutting steps that appear to have led to slower and less reliable delivery.

In recent weeks, at the direction of a Trump campaign megadonor who was recently named the postmaster general, the service has stopped paying mail carriers and clerks the overtime necessary to ensure that deliveries can be completed each day. That and other changes have led to reports of letters and packages being delayed by as many as several days.

Voting rights groups say it is a recipe for disaster.

“We have an underfunded state and local election system and a deliberate slowdown in the Postal Service,” said Wendy Fields, the executive director of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting and civil rights groups. She said the president was “deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the post office as a tool to do it.”

Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington, one of five states where mail-in balloting is universal, said Wednesday on NPR’s “1A” program that “election officials are very concerned, if the post office is reducing service, that we will be able to get ballots to people in time.”

During his eulogy on Thursday for Representative John Lewis, former President Barack Obama lamented what he said was a continuing effort to attack voting rights “with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, defended the changes, saying in a statement that the ban on overtime was intended to “improve operational efficiency” and to “ensure that we meet our service standards.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 31dc-postal2-articleLarge Mail Delays Fuel Concern Trump Is Undercutting Postal System Ahead of Voting Wyman, Kim United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Postal Service and Post Offices Postal Service (US) Obama, Barack DeJoy, Louis Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Birx, Deborah L Bezos, Jeffrey P absentee voting
Credit…Kim Walker/Elon University, via Associated Press

Mr. DeJoy declined to be interviewed. David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said that the nation’s post offices had “ample capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected election and political mail volume, including any additional volume that may result as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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Updated 2020-07-31T22:22:23.406Z

A plunge in the amount of mail because of a recession — which the United States entered into in February — has cost the Postal Service billions of dollars in revenue, with some analysts predicting that the agency will run out of money by spring. Democrats have proposed an infusion of $25 billion. On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans, who are opposed to the funding, of wanting to “diminish the capacity of the Postal System to work in a timely fashion.”

Arthur B. Sackler, who runs the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a group representing the biggest bulk mailers, said the changes were concerning even though his organization did not take a position on voting by mail.

“Like any other mail, this could complicate what is already going to be a complicated process,” Mr. Sackler said. “A huge number of jurisdictions are totally inexperienced in vote by mail. They have never had the avalanche of interest that they have this year.”

Many states have already loosened restrictions on who can vote by mail: In Kentucky, mail-in ballots accounted for 85 percent of the vote in June’s primary. In Vermont, requests for mail-in ballots are up 1,000 percent over 2018.

Michigan voters had requested nearly 1.8 million mail-in ballots by the end of July, compared with about 500,000 by the similar time four years ago, after the secretary of state mailed absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters.

In the suburban Virginia district of Representative Gerald E. Connolly, a Democrat who leads the House subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, 1,300 people voted by mail in a 2019 primary — last month, more than 34,000 did.

“We are worried about new management at the Postal Service that is carrying out Trump’s avowed opposition to voting by mail,” Mr. Connolly said. “I don’t think that’s speculation. I think we are witnessing that in front of our own eyes.”

Erratic service could delay the delivery of blank ballots to people who request them. And in 34 states, completed ballots that are not received by Election Day — this year it is Nov. 3 — are invalidated, raising the prospect that some voters could be disenfranchised if the mail system buckles.

In other states, ballots can be tallied as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, but voting rights groups say ballots are often erroneously delivered without a postmark, which prevents them from being counted.

The ability of the Postal Service “to timely deliver and return absentee ballots and their work to postmark those ballots will literally determine whether or not voters are disenfranchised during the pandemic,” said Kristen Clarke, the president of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

In New York, where officials urged people not to cast ballots in person during June’s primary, counting of mail-in ballots is still underway weeks later, leaving some crucial races undecided. In some cases, ballots received without postmarks are being discarded.

Making the problem worse, New York law requires that election officials wait to begin counting mail-in ballots until the polls close on Election Day. Other states allow counting to begin earlier, though most insist that no results be revealed until after voting ends. In Arizona, officials can begin tallying votes 14 days early. In Florida, officials can begin verifying signatures on ballots 22 days before the election.

Mr. Trump and his allies have seized upon the New York debacle as evidence that he is right to oppose mail-in ballots. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, called it an “absolute catastrophe,” and the president referred to New York in a tweet that said, “Rigged Election, and EVERYONE knows it!”

But Mr. Trump — who himself has repeatedly voted by mail in recent elections — has set in motion changes at the Postal Service that could make the problem worse.

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

A series of Postal Service documents titled “PMGs expectations,” a reference to the postmaster general, describe how Mr. Trump’s new leadership team is trying to cut costs.

“Overtime will be eliminated,” says the document, which was first reported by The Washington Post. “Again, we are paying too much overtime, and it is not cost effective and will soon be taken off the table. More to come on this.”

The document continues: “The U.S.P.S. will no longer use excessive cost to get the basic job done. If the plants run late, they will keep the mail for the next day.”

Another document, dated July 10, says, “One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that — temporarily — we may see mail left behind or on the workroom floor or docks.”

With the agency under financial pressure, some offices have also begun to cut back on hours. The result, according to postal workers, members of Congress and major post office customers, is a noticeable slowdown in delivery.

“The policies that the new postmaster general is putting into place — they couldn’t lead to anything but degradation of service,” said Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union. “Anything that slows down the mail could have a negative impact on everything we do, including vote by mail.”

The Postal Service, which runs more than 31,000 post offices in the United States, has struggled financially for years, in part because of its legal obligation to deliver mail everywhere, even remote locations that would be unprofitable for a private company.

A 2018 report by the Treasury Department recommended an overhaul of the Postal Service, which the report said accumulated losses of $69 billion from 2007 to 2018.

But the administration’s critics say the changes being put in place by Mr. DeJoy are part of a political agenda to move toward privatization of the Postal Service.

In mid-July, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Mr. Connolly wrote a letter to Mr. DeJoy raising questions about the ban on overtime and the other changes.

“While these changes in a normal year would be drastic,” the lawmakers wrote, “in a presidential election year when many states are relying heavily on absentee mail-in ballots, increases in mail delivery timing would impair the ability of ballots to be received and counted in a timely manner — an unacceptable outcome for a free and fair election.”

Credit…Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Mr. Trump has been assailing the Postal Service since early in his presidency, tweeting in 2017 that the agency was becoming “dumber and poorer” because it charged big companies too little for delivering their packages.

The president has repeatedly blamed Mr. Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post, for the financial plight of the Postal Service, insisting that the post office charges Amazon too little, an assertion that many experts have rejected as false.

In the past three years, the president has replaced all six members of the Postal Service Board of Governors.

In May, the board, which includes two Democrats, selected Mr. DeJoy, a longtime Republican fund-raiser who has contributed more than $1.5 million to Mr. Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, to be postmaster general. According to financial disclosures, Mr. DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, who has been nominated to be the ambassador to Canada, have $115,002 to $300,000 invested in the Postal Service’s major competitor, UPS.

Two board members have since departed. David C. Williams, the vice chairman, left in April over concerns that the Postal Service was becoming increasingly politicized by the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with his thinking. Ronald Stroman, who oversaw mail-in voting and relations with election officials, resigned in May.

One of the remaining members, Robert M. Duncan, is a former Republican National Committee chairman who has been a campaign donor to Mr. Trump.

In accusing the administration of politicizing the Postal Service, the president’s critics point to a recent decision to send a mailer detailing guidelines to protect against the coronavirus. The mailer, which featured Mr. Trump’s name in a campaignlike style, was sent in March to 130 million American households at a reported cost of $28 million.

According to Postal Service emails obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Trump was personally involved.

“I know that POTUS personally approved this postcard and is aware of the USPS effort in service to the nation — pushing information out to every household, urban and rural,” John M. Barger, a governor of the postal system, wrote in an email to the postmaster general at the time.

In another email, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told a member of the board that Dr. Stephen C. Redd, a deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “will make this happen.” The mailer received a go-ahead from the White House before it was sent out, the emails show.

S. David Fineman, who served on the board under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said that during his time, the board rarely if ever had contact with the White House.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” he said. “No one would have thought that we would have sought the input of the administration.”

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Microsoft Said to Be in Talks to Buy TikTok, as Trump Weighs Curtailing App

Westlake Legal Group microsoft-said-to-be-in-talks-to-buy-tiktok-as-trump-weighs-curtailing-app Microsoft Said to Be in Talks to Buy TikTok, as Trump Weighs Curtailing App Trump, Donald J TikTok (ByteDance) Social Media Musical.ly Inc Mobile Applications Microsoft Corp Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Foreign Investments Computers and the Internet Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) China
Westlake Legal Group 31tiktok1-facebookJumbo Microsoft Said to Be in Talks to Buy TikTok, as Trump Weighs Curtailing App Trump, Donald J TikTok (ByteDance) Social Media Musical.ly Inc Mobile Applications Microsoft Corp Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Foreign Investments Computers and the Internet Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) China

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft is in talks to acquire TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions, as President Trump said on Friday that he was considering taking steps that would effectively ban the app from the United States.

It’s unclear how advanced the talks between Microsoft and TikTok are, but any deal could help alter TikTok’s ownership, said the person with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese internet company that is valued at $100 billion. That has raised scrutiny of the app, with Trump administration officials saying that they have been concerned that TikTok poses a threat to national security.

The Trump administration has been weighing whether to order ByteDance to divest from American assets it acquired in 2017, which were later merged into TikTok. Bloomberg reported Friday that the president was poised to announce an order that would force ByteDance to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations.

The Trump administration has also been weighing other potential actions against the company, including adding ByteDance to a so-called “entity list,” which prevents foreign companies from purchasing American products and services without a special license, according to people familiar with the matter.

“We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday before heading to Florida. “We may be doing some other things. There’s a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening, so we’ll see what happens. But we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”

Representatives from TikTok did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Microsoft declined to comment. The discussions between Microsoft and TikTok were earlier reported by Fox Business.

Lawmakers and the Trump administration have increasingly questioned whether TikTok is susceptible to influence from the Chinese government, including potential requests to censor material shared on the platform or to share American user data with Chinese officials.

The app has been under review since late last year by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a federal panel that examines foreign acquisitions of American firms for national security threats.

In response to the heightened scrutiny, TikTok has aimed to ease government concerns by tapping an American to head its U.S. business. In May, TikTok hired a top Disney executive, Kevin Mayer, to be its chief executive.

Executives at TikTok have discussed other scenarios to alleviate regulator concerns, including one in which American investors like Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic could purchase TikTok back from ByteDance, people familiar with the discussions have said, with the Chinese company retaining a minority stake in the social app.

Founded in 2014, TikTok has grown from an esoteric music video app into a global social media phenomenon. The app, which is used by more than 800 million people across the world, was acquired in 2017 by ByteDance. The app grew popular with young people by adding music tracks to user-generated video content. The videos often travel virally across Facebook and Twitter.

Since the ByteDance acquisition, the company’s Chinese offices have swollen to tens of thousands of employees. But the company has maintained a U.S. presence, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, and has continued to hire Americans aggressively.

TikTok has spent the past few months bulking up its lobbying operation in Washington in an attempt to convince lawmakers that it is an American company and to prevent the United States from forcing it to break away from its Chinese parent company.

With help from prominent investors like SoftBank and General Atlantic, it has overhauled its presence in Washington, including hiring the former head of the Internet Association, a trade group that represents companies like Google and Facebook, and staff members from prominent members from Congress.

The company has signed on more than 35 lobbyists, including David J. Urban, a former West Point classmate of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an ally of Mr. Trump. The company’s lobbyists have highlighted TikTok’s American investors and Mr. Mayer’s hire.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Mike Isaac reported from San Francisco and Ana Swanson from Washington. David McCabe contributed reporting from Washington.

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Trump Still Defers to Putin, Even as He Dismisses U.S. Intelligence and the Allies

Westlake Legal Group 31dc-trumprussia-facebookJumbo Trump Still Defers to Putin, Even as He Dismisses U.S. Intelligence and the Allies United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Taliban Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V North Atlantic Treaty Organization National Security Agency Justice Department Internet Research Agency (Russia) Germany Espionage and Intelligence Services democratic national committee Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Afghanistan War (2001- )

WASHINGTON — On the eve of accepting the Republican nomination for president four years ago, Donald J. Trump declared that he would pull out of NATO if American allies did not pay more for their defense, waving away the thought that it would play into the hands of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who has spent his career trying to dismantle the Western alliance.

Asked about his deference to the Kremlin leader, Mr. Trump responded, “He’s been complimentary of me.”

This week, as his renomination nears, Mr. Trump announced that he was pulling a third of American troops from Germany. He declared in recent days that he had never raised with Mr. Putin, during a recent phone conversation, American intelligence indicating that Russia was paying a bounty to the Taliban for the killing of American soldiers in Afghanistan, because he distrusted the information from his own intelligence agencies. Nor has he issued warnings about what price, if any, Mr. Putin would pay for seeking to influence the 2020 election or pushing disinformation about the coronavirus. American intelligence agencies say Russia is trying both.

Say this about Mr. Trump’s approach to Moscow: It has been consistent.

With three months until Election Day, he is repeating a variant of lines that he uttered during his first campaign. It would be “wonderful” if “instead of fighting each other, we got along.” That he and Mr. Putin are working together to reduce the threat of nuclear war, even though both nations have spent the past four years developing nuclear weapons and scuttling treaties that limited their stockpiles. In recent days, he has begun deflecting questions about Russia’s cyberactivities by repeating another line from 2016: that everyone turns a blind eye to China.

What is striking about all these comments is that they indicate little or no evolution in Mr. Trump’s approach.

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Updated 2020-08-01T03:58:21.244Z

John F. Kennedy used the Cuban missile crisis to start the era of arms control negotiations with the Soviets, and Ronald Reagan transitioned from the hard-line anti-Communism of his party to doing business with a reformist Kremlin leader, Mikhail S. Gorbachev. But Mr. Trump has never wavered from a policy of praise and nonconfrontation. Just as he rarely misses a campaign-season opportunity to take on Beijing, he has not wavered from accommodating Moscow.

The absence of a strategy to alter Moscow’s behavior at this electoral inflection point — four years ago this week, the C.I.A. was coming to the conclusion that Russia was responsible for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers — has been particularly evident in recent days. After trying to raise doubts that Russia was behind the breach, the release of emails and a social media influence campaign, Mr. Trump has settled on a strategy of silence about evidence of an emerging new Russian playbook.

So when he spoke with Mr. Putin recently, the White House gave no indication that the warnings from the intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security even came up.

“At this very moment, Putin is presumably deciding how far to go in interfering in the 2020 election,” said David Shimer, a historian and the author of “Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference,” a new study of Russian and American efforts to influence elections around the globe. “Leaders like Putin push as far as they can without provoking meaningful pushback, and in that sense, Trump’s continued passivity toward Russia could embolden Putin to proceed more aggressively.”

Not surprisingly, the administration rejects the notion that it has given Mr. Putin free rein. Mr. Trump regularly says no American president has been tougher on Russia than he has, “maybe tougher than any other president.”

The president’s advisers point out that Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for breaking into the Democratic National Committee and running the social media campaign — though Mr. Trump has questioned Russia’s ability for both. Under authorities given to it by the president, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, General Paul A. Nakasone, briefly paralyzed the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia, during the 2018 midterm elections to send a message. (Mr. Trump later said he was responsible for the action.)

And Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, declared the United States would never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea — “Crimea is Ukraine,” he said on the sixth anniversary of the unilateral seizure of the territory, not mentioning that Mr. Trump said in an interview with The New York Times in 2016 that he did not understand why the United States was penalizing Russia for events that primarily affected allies far away.

But it is the withdrawal of troops from Germany, and the absence of any response to the intelligence on the bounties offered to the Taliban for killing Americans, that seems to encapsulate the administration’s absence of a strategy.

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Mr. Pompeo struggled to offer up a defense on either in Senate testimony on Thursday. He noted that as a newly-minted Army officer during the final days of the Cold War, he himself “fought on the border of East Germany,” leading Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, to note wryly that under Mr. Trump’s orders “your unit is coming back to the United States.”

But Mr. Pompeo’s testimony was more notable for what he failed to say. He provided no strategic rationale for the reduction of 12,000 troops in Germany, including 6,400 returning to the United States. He made the case that they could return to Europe quickly, but never addressed the fundamental issue: that the decision was part of presidential pique that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was not devoting a big enough portion of the national budget to her nation’s defense — and that reducing the American military presence in German fulfilled one of Mr. Putin’s greatest dreams.

“Germany is supposed to pay for it,” Mr. Trump said of the American presence, as if the forward deployment was not a central part of the United States’ own defense strategy for the past 75 years. “Germany’s not paying for it. We don’t want to be the suckers any more. The United States has been taken advantage of for 25 years, both on trade and on the military. So we’re reducing the force because they’re not paying their bills.”

For four years, Mr. Trump has talked about “NATO fees.” There are no such fees. Six years ago, alliance members agree to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their individual defense by 2024. Germany spends 1.5 percent; Italy and Belgium, where the United States says it is moving some of its forces, spend less.

Mr. Pompeo further muddied the waters on the intelligence surrounding the bounties for American lives. Citing intelligence concerns, he would not discuss the C.I.A. analysis that was included in a Presidential Daily Brief in February that Mr. Trump says never reached his desk.

What is still missing is any statement of what the administration is trying to accomplish with Russia. Getting Mr. Putin to back down? A new détente? Modern containment of a declining but still disruptive nuclear power? An end to use of its cyberpower to step into the middle of the American elections?

Mr. Trump has had four years, and he hasn’t said.

“There appears to be no overarching objective, no strategy for getting there, no coherent policy process,” Wendy R. Sherman, who served in the State Department during the Obama and Clinton administrations, wrote in Foreign Policy on Friday. “There is no evidence, for example, of a desire to preserve arms control with Russia or to stop Russia’s (or any other country’s) persistent disinformation campaigns that are now looming as an ever-larger threat to the integrity of the U.S. election.”

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More Than Just a Tweet: Trump’s Campaign to Undercut Democracy

Westlake Legal Group 31dc-trump-democracy-facebookJumbo More Than Just a Tweet: Trump’s Campaign to Undercut Democracy Voter Fraud (Election Fraud) United States Politics and Government United States Trump, Donald J Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Presidential Election of 2020 Lincoln, Abraham elections Democracy (Theory and Philosophy) Constitution (US) Clinton, Hillary Rodham Biden, Joseph R Jr

Nothing in the Constitution gives President Trump the power to delay the November election, and even fellow Republicans dismissed it out of hand when he broached it on Thursday. But that was not the point. With a possible defeat looming, the point was to tell Americans that they should not trust their own democracy.

The idea of putting off the vote was the culmination of months of discrediting an election that polls suggest Mr. Trump is currently losing by a wide margin. He has repeatedly predicted “RIGGED ELECTIONS” and a “substantially fraudulent” vote and “the most corrupt election in the history of our country,” all based on false, unfounded or exaggerated claims.

It is the kind of language resonant of conspiracy theorists, cranks and defeated candidates, not an incumbent living in the White House. Never before has a sitting president of the United States sought to undermine public faith in the election system the way Mr. Trump has. He has refused to commit to respecting the results and, even after his election-delay trial balloon was panned by Republican allies, he raised the specter on Thursday evening of months of lawsuits challenging the outcome.

Mr. Trump has put on the line not merely the outcome of this fall’s contest but the credibility of the system as a whole, according to even scholars and operatives normally sympathetic to the president. Just floating the possibility of postponing a presidential election, an idea anathema in America and reminiscent of authoritarian countries without the rule of law, risks eroding the most important ingredient in a democracy — the belief by most Americans that, whatever its manifest flaws, the election result will be fundamentally fair.

“It undermines the faith of the public in our electoral process,” said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who testified on Mr. Trump’s side last year during the House impeachment hearings. “Any constitutional system is ultimately held together by a leap of faith. Citizens must trust the process if you want them to yield to it. What the president is doing is seeding distrust about the legitimacy of even the holding of the election.”

Michael J. Gerhardt, a constitutional scholar at the University of North Carolina who testified on the other side in those hearings, said Mr. Trump’s statements were part of a pattern of disdain for the norms that have defined the United States for generations.

“In the long term, I think there’s going to be a lot of institutional damage,” he said, “and the rule of law is going to be undermined to a very large extent.”

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Updated 2020-07-31T00:45:00.642Z

Even some of Mr. Trump’s own current and former advisers see his attacks on the election system as a reflection of fear that he may lose and as a transparent effort to create a narrative to explain that away. Sam Nunberg, an adviser on Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, said the president was “trying to get ahead of a potential loss” by blaming it on external factors like the coronavirus.

“What President Trump does not seem to understand is that unlike past experiences where he was able to frame a defeat as a win, there is no spin for losing a re-election as an incumbent president and taking down the Republican Party with him,” Mr. Nunberg said. “Despite what he may believe, even the overwhelming majority of the president’s supporters are not interested in this claptrap.”

He added: “Republican voters and conservative media will ultimately feel that if you cannot beat Joe Biden, you do not deserve another term.”

As recently as April, a Republican National Committee official said former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was “off his rocker” to suggest that Mr. Trump might seek to “kick back the election somehow.” But in fact, Mr. Trump has a long history of sowing doubt in election results that do not go the way he wants them to go.

When he appeared to be losing to Hillary Clinton in 2016, he repeatedly suggested that the election was being rigged and would not commit to accepting the results — until he won, that is. And even after winning the Electoral College, he insisted that he had actually won the popular vote, too, because three million illegal immigrants had supposedly voted for Mrs. Clinton, a claim seemingly made up out of thin air and one for which his own commission found no evidence.

In 2020 alone, Mr. Trump has already made public comments, posted Twitter messages or reposted others suggesting election fraud 91 times, according to data compiled for The New Yorker by Factba.se, a service that collects and analyzes data on his presidency. Going back to 2012, Factba.se counted 713 instances when Mr. Trump cited vote fraud, spiking especially in 2016 and 2018 before elections in which he had a stake.

Some of Mr. Trump’s allies have said that he has justifiable reasons to raise concerns about widespread mail-in voting being employed in light of the coronavirus pandemic, even though there is a long history of its use without evidence of widespread fraud. And they accuse the Democrats of being the ones unwilling to accept election results when they lose, pointing to the yearslong effort to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and any ties to Mr. Trump’s organization.

In an interview last year with CBS News, Mrs. Clinton made clear that she considered Mr. Trump’s election shady. “I believe he knows he’s an illegitimate president,” she said.

She is hardly the only defeated candidate to see injustice in her loss. Going back to the early days of the republic, questions have been raised about the legitimacy of presidential victories from those on the losing side.

Andrew Jackson, who won the popular vote and had the most Electoral College votes in 1824 but not a majority in a four-way race, ended up losing to John Quincy Adams when the House decided the matter. Jackson spent the next four years accusing Adams of a making a “corrupt bargain” to secure the support of the third-place candidate, Henry Clay, in exchange for appointment as secretary of state. Jackson got his revenge by beating Adams in an 1828 rematch.

Likewise, Democrats complained when Rutherford B. Hayes won in a disputed election in 1876, calling him Rutherfraud B. Hayes and His Fraudulency. Republicans suspected that John F. Kennedy beat Richard M. Nixon in 1960 thanks to vote fraud in Texas and Illinois, and many Democrats never accepted George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore in 2000 after the Florida recount was halted by the Supreme Court.

But the complaints do not typically come from the Oval Office, especially before an election has even been held. And no sitting president has made a serious effort to delay his own re-election, not even Abraham Lincoln in 1864 during the Civil War or Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 during World War II. Elections were held as scheduled during the pandemics of 1918 and 1968, as well.

Ronald C. White, a prominent Lincoln biographer, noted that the 16th president did not try to postpone the election even though he thought he was likely to lose. Instead, he made it possible for soldiers in the field to cast their ballots, recognizing that they might support their former general, George B. McClellan, who was his Democratic challenger.

“Even as the pandemic, economic collapse and racial protests have Trump calling himself a wartime president, the real wartime president, Lincoln, determined that the election of 1864 must go forward as a sign that the Union would go forward,” Mr. White said.

Jill Lepore, a Harvard University professor and the author of “These Truths: A History of the United States,” said presidents bear a responsibility to foster faith in democracy.

“Far from undermining public confidence in the democracy over which he presides, it is the obligation of every president to cultivate that confidence by guaranteeing voting rights, by condemning foreign interference in American political campaigns, by promoting free, safe and secure elections, and by abiding by their outcome,” she said.

Mr. Trump has for years been drawn to leaders of other countries who did not share that view, especially autocrats like Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Xi Jinping of China. He has expressed admiration for their leadership and envy that in their systems they can be decisive without bureaucratic or political impediments while avoiding criticism of their crackdowns on internal dissent.

For Americans who have made it their mission to encourage free and fair elections in countries like those and elsewhere, Mr. Trump’s suggestion to delay the November vote and his drumbeat of criticism leading up to it sounded like what they confront abroad, not at home

“I have never seen such an effort to sow distrust in our elections,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House, a nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy around the world. “We are used to seeing this kind of behavior from authoritarians around the globe, but it is particularly disturbing coming from the president of the United States.”

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Trump Floats an Election Delay, and Republicans Shoot It Down

Westlake Legal Group trump-floats-an-election-delay-and-republicans-shoot-it-down Trump Floats an Election Delay, and Republicans Shoot It Down Voting and Voters Voter Fraud (Election Fraud) Trump, Donald J Rumors and Misinformation Rubio, Marco Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Cheney, Liz Biden, Joseph R Jr absentee voting

Facing disastrous economic news and rising coronavirus deaths, President Trump on Thursday floated delaying the Nov. 3 election, a suggestion that lacks legal authority and could undermine confidence in an election that polls show him on course to lose.

Republican leaders in Congress, who often claim not to have seen Mr. Trump’s outlandish statements and tweets and who infrequently challenge him in public, promptly and vocally condemned any notion that the election would be moved.

It was a moment of striking political isolation for the president, as Republicans felt no need to defend him, Democrats condemned him, and three former presidents gathered in a rare moment together, paying tribute at the funeral of Representative John Lewis of Georgia.

Mr. Trump is facing about as dire a run-up to a presidential election as any incumbent could imagine: the worst quarter in the economy on record, an unceasing health crisis, protests nationwide and a country paralyzed by the lack of a financial recovery plan with no solution in sight — all compounded by his own inability to curtail his behavior.

His remarks on Twitter about the election delay — which he linked to his baseless claims about the potential for mail-in voter fraud — were one of the few clear signs that the president now realizes how deep a hole he has dug for himself in his re-election effort. Aides have described him as pained by the widespread rejection he is seeing in public opinion polls, even as he continues with self-sabotaging behavior rather than taking steps that might help him, like getting involved in negotiations for a deal on Capitol Hill to lift the economy.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Mr. Trump wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

Mr. Trump later pinned the tweet at the top of his Twitter feed, ensuring people would continue to see it. Hours later, despite warnings from his campaign officials that delays are likely in tabulating results on Nov. 3, Mr. Trump said in a separate tweet, “Must know Election results on the night of the Election, not days, months or even years later!”

That second statement reflects a concern that Democrats have given voice to — that Mr. Trump will try to focus on the same-day voting tallies to claim victory, even when the full results may be unknown for days.

At a late-afternoon briefing with reporters, Mr. Trump defended the initial tweet, saying that he feared delays in counting votes. But he declined to elaborate on whether he was seriously proposing moving the election.

Mr. Trump posted the first tweet shortly after the Commerce Department announced that the gross domestic product for the second quarter of the year had fallen precipitously by 9.5 percent, reflecting the widespread shutdown of businesses beginning in March to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

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Updated 2020-07-30T23:31:04.933Z

Mr. Trump, who often tests the boundaries of his authority, has increasingly used public comments to lay groundwork for arguing that the election results are illegitimate if he loses. Though he does not have the constitutional authority to unilaterally change the date of the election, his tweet prompted a now-familiar round of assertions about what his true intention was with his statement.

With Mr. Trump, that is frequently a guessing game. The president has often posted remarks on Twitter that are aimed at sparking a reaction from people. At other times, he posts in reaction to what he sees on cable news shows. And sometimes he tries to change what those shows are focusing on with his tweets, offering a diversion.

Whatever his motivation on Thursday, senior Republicans and an array of senators wanted no part of it, diverging from their standard practice of walking on eggshells after a Trump eruption.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election, and we should go forward,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader and an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Trump’s, adding that he understood “the president’s concern about mail-in voting.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_175125528_d9a5161a-4545-4d12-b133-08d3febe0a9d-articleLarge Trump Floats an Election Delay, and Republicans Shoot It Down Voting and Voters Voter Fraud (Election Fraud) Trump, Donald J Rumors and Misinformation Rubio, Marco Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Cheney, Liz Biden, Joseph R Jr absentee voting
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, echoed Mr. McCarthy, saying “we’ll find a way” to hold the election on Nov. 3.

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who have since become staunch Trump supporters, both dismissed the idea that the date for the election could change. Senator Lindsey Graham, Mr. Trump’s foremost public defender in the Senate, said there would be a secure vote in November. And officials in key swing states showed little interest in engaging on the topic.

“We’re going to have an election, it’s going to be legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as it’s always been,” Mr. Rubio told reporters at the Capitol in Washington.

Mr. Cruz agreed. “I think election fraud is a serious problem,” he said. “But, no, we should not delay the election.”

People close to Mr. Trump said that the president has at times discussed with associates whether the election can be delayed, and has been told definitively that only an amendment to the Constitution could change the date. But his tweet was discomfiting to most of his aides, who tried to clean up his statement later by contending that he had been referring to the possibility that the outcome won’t be known until weeks after the election.

This is not the first time that Mr. Trump has raised the idea of thwarting rules or laws that he finds objectionable, and he often fails to follow through. He has repeatedly hurled threats, whether it is defunding universities or blocking federal aid to states, the substance of which he has no intent, or capacity, to fulfill.

The president, who did not serve in government before being elected to the highest office in the country, has never fully absorbed what powers he does and does not have, or how to wield his authority. What Mr. Trump has always been mindful of, dating to his time as a real estate developer, is the danger of being labeled a failure.

So in response to his weakened standing in the presidential race, Mr. Trump has been reaching for arguments to explain his difficulties this year, repeatedly noting how the virus undermined the booming economy for which he claims credit.

In this vein, any uncertainty about the balloting offers him an opening to raise questions about the legitimacy of his loss, regardless of whether he challenges the results.

Trump-weary Republicans may make that a more difficult task, however.

Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, a sometime critic of the president who is eyeing the top ranks of the House leadership, said: “We are not moving the date of the election. The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming.”

Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist and an adviser to Mr. McConnell, called Mr. Trump’s statement “unfocused,” and “insecure,” saying it “separates him from his own party and most of mainstream political thought at a time when he needs to be fully focused on coronavirus, the economy, and defining Biden as out of the mainstream.”

“Republicans,” Mr. Jennings added, “have reacted correctly by rejecting the notion of delay.”

To Mr. Jennings and other Republican strategists, Mr. Trump is playing with fire by suggesting to his supporters that mail voting can’t be trusted, given that it may be the best option for some people in an era in which almost every activity has been changed to combat the virus’s spread. Making Republican voters distrust mail voting could negatively affect not just Mr. Trump, but a host of down-ballot candidates.

”The reality is,” Mr. Jennings said, “he needs every Republican vote there is, and he needs them any way he can get them, no matter how they are cast.”

The president has repeatedly railed against mail voting, creating outlandish scenarios of ballot theft to undermine confidence in the practice.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Even for Mr. Trump, suggesting a delay in the election was an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum that will increase the chances that he and his core supporters don’t accept the legitimacy of the election should he lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Trump’s comments about the election looked all the more discordant coming just hours before the funeral for Mr. Lewis, a Democrat who as a young man was beaten and jailed as he advocated voting rights.

Without mentioning his successor by name, former President Barack Obama used his eulogy of Mr. Lewis to rebuke Mr. Trump.

Speaking from the pulpit of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was reared and eventually preached, Mr. Obama lashed Mr. Trump for “even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

For all the eye-rolling dismissals among Republicans, Mr. Trump’s remarks irritated and embarrassed his allies — and represented the latest illustration of how he is not only complicating his own campaign but also compounding his party’s challenge this fall.

Already burdened with an administration that only briefly attempted a full-scale response to a public health crisis that has sickened millions of Americans and killed over 150,000 while ravaging the economy, Republicans on the ballot are increasingly being undermined by Mr. Trump’s response to his misfortune.

Just this week, after he finally bowed to pressure to urge people to take virus safety measures, the president lamented how unpopular he is compared with his high-profile medical advisers.

And then he publicized an online video promoting an unproven virus treatment from a doctor who has previously opined on alien DNA and the impact of having sex with demons in one’s dreams.

His growing desperation to close the gap with Mr. Biden has also caused headaches for Republicans because he has increasingly employed race-baiting language that few in the party care to defend.

“I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Luke Broadwater, Emily Cochrane and Matt Stevens contributed reporting.

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Can Trump Postpone the 2020 Election? Your Questions Answered.

Westlake Legal Group 30election-explainer-facebookJumbo Can Trump Postpone the 2020 Election? Your Questions Answered. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Elections (US) Presidential Election of 2020 Law and Legislation elections absentee voting

President Trump, who is trailing badly in polling of the race for the White House, suggested on Thursday that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.” Even for him, floating the idea of postponing the election was an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum.

But the president does not have the authority to move the date of a federal election. And Mr. Trump’s other claim on Thursday, that widespread mail-in voting would make the election “inaccurate and fraudulent,” is false.

Here are answers to some key questions about holding elections in a crisis.

No.

Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to choose the timing of the general election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts.

Did we mention that the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats; the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans; and President Trump would all have to approve such legislation?

To call that unlikely would be an understatement.

Even if all of that happened, there would not be much flexibility in choosing an alternate election date: The Constitution mandates that the new Congress must be sworn in on Jan. 3, and that the new president’s term must begin on Jan. 20. Those dates cannot be changed just by the passage of normal legislation.

Marc Elias, the prominent Democratic election lawyer, on Thursday knocked down the idea that Mr. Trump could move the election on his own.

Yes: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, sixteen states and two territories either pushed back their presidential primaries or extended deadlines for voting by mail.

States have broad autonomy to define the timing and procedures for primary elections. The exact process for setting primary dates varies from state to state.

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Updated 2020-07-31T00:16:35.873Z

For example, in Louisiana, state law allows the governor to reschedule an election because of an emergency, so long as the secretary of state has certified that an emergency exists. In March, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Secretary of State R. Kyle Ardoin did just that. (In fact, they later postponed the primary election for a second time, buying more time for the state to prepare to hold its vote amid the pandemic.)

It was reported in 2004 that some Bush administration officials had discussed putting in place a method of postponing a federal election in the event of a terrorist attack. But that idea fizzled quickly, and Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, said that the United States had held “elections in this country when we were at war, even when we were in civil war. And we should have the elections on time.”

While the date of the presidential election is set by federal law, the procedures for voting are generally controlled at the state level.

That’s why the nation has such a complicated patchwork of voting regulations, with some states allowing early and absentee voting; some permitting voting by mail or same-day voter registration; others requiring certain kinds of identification for voters; and many states doing few or none of those things.

Democrats included $3.6 billion in their latest coronavirus aid package to help states administer their elections safely during the pandemic. Republicans did not include any such funding in the proposal they rolled out this week.

Several states have tried to make it easier for voters to use mail-in ballots this year, helping them to avoid going to polling places on Election Day. In Michigan, for example, the secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, mailed absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters for the state’s August primary election and the November general election.

Even before this year, five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — regularly conducted their elections almost entirely by mail.

Other states have struggled to manage a flood of absentee ballots. In New York, where voters requested hundreds of thousands more absentee ballots than in a typical election, officials are still counting votes more than a month after Primary Day. Key races in the 12th and 15th Congressional Districts are still unresolved.

That may offer a preview of what could happen on election night in November: Unless one candidate wins in a landslide, there may be no clear and immediate winner in the presidential race. But that does not mean that the election would be fraudulent, only that it may take more time to determine the victor.

No.

Numerous studies have shown that all forms of voting fraud are very rare in the United States. A panel that Mr. Trump established to investigate election corruption was disbanded in 2018 after it found no real evidence of fraud.

Experts have said that voting by mail is less secure than voting in person, but it is still extremely rare to see broad cases of voter fraud.

In Washington, one of the states that votes almost entirely by mail, a study conducted by the Republican secretary of state found that 142 potential cases of improper voting in the 2018 election were referred to county sheriffs and prosecutors for legal action, out of more than 3.1 million ballots cast, which amounted to roughly 0.004 percent of the electorate.

One of the most prominent recent cases of fraud came in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, where a political operative was charged with fraudulently collecting and submitting absentee ballots in an effort to manipulate the election results in favor of the Republican candidate. But such broad schemes are likely to be detected, as this one was, experts say; the district held a do-over election.

And Mr. Trump himself voted by mail in the last election.

Reid J. Epstein and Linda Qiu contributed reporting.

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As Crises Abound, Trump Veers Into Dangerous Distraction

Westlake Legal Group 30TRUMP-ANALYSIS-facebookJumbo As Crises Abound, Trump Veers Into Dangerous Distraction Weld, William F United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sununu, Christopher T (1974- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Pelosi, Nancy McConnell, Mitch McCarthy, Kevin (1965- ) Constitution (US)

For several years, it has been the stuff of his opponents’ nightmares: that President Trump, facing the prospect of defeat in the 2020 election, would declare by presidential edict that the vote had been delayed or canceled.

Never mind that no president has that power, that the timing of federal elections has been fixed since the 19th century and that the Constitution sets an immovable expiration date on the president’s term. Given Mr. Trump’s contempt for the legal limits on his office and his oft-expressed admiration for foreign dictators, it hardly seemed far-fetched to imagine he would at least attempt the gambit.

But when the moment came on Thursday, with Mr. Trump suggesting for the first time that the election could be delayed, his proposal appeared as impotent as it was predictable — less a stunning assertion of his authority than yet another lament that his political prospects have dimmed amid a global public-health crisis. Indeed, his comments on Twitter came shortly after the Commerce Department reported that American economic output contracted last quarter at the fastest rate in recorded history, underscoring one of Mr. Trump’s most severe vulnerabilities as he pursues a second term.

Far from a strongman, Mr. Trump has lately become a heckler in his own government, promoting medical conspiracy theories on social media, playing no constructive role in either the management of the coronavirus pandemic or the negotiation of an economic rescue plan in Congress — and complaining endlessly about the unfairness of it all.

“It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” Mr. Trump tweeted of the election, asserting without evidence that mail-in voting would lead to fraud. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

The most powerful leaders in Congress immediately shot down the idea of moving the election, including the top figures in Mr. Trump’s own party.

“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 Nov. 3,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, said in an interview with WNKY television in Kentucky. “We’ll cope with whatever the situation is and have the election on Nov. 3 as already scheduled.”

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Updated 2020-07-30T19:49:06.277Z

Mr. Trump’s tweet about delaying the election put a self-pitying exclamation mark on a phase of his presidency defined not by the accumulation of executive power, but by an abdication of presidential leadership on a national emergency.

Faced with the kind of economic wreckage besieging millions of Americans, any other president would be shoulder-deep in the process of marshaling his top lieutenants and leaders in Congress to form a robust government response. Instead, Mr. Trump has been absent this week from economic-relief talks, even as a crucial unemployment benefit is poised to expire and the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, warned publicly that the country’s recovery is lagging.

And any other president confronted with a virulent viral outbreak across huge regions of the country would be at least trying to deliver a clear and consistent message about public safety. Instead, Mr. Trump has continued to promote a drug of no proven efficacy, hydroxychloroquine, as a potential miracle cure, and to demand that schools and businesses reopen quickly — even as he has also claimed that it might be impossible to hold a safe election.

William F. Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts who mounted a largely symbolic challenge to Mr. Trump in the Republican primaries this year, said on Thursday that the president’s tweet was a sign that Mr. Trump was panicked and unmoored. Though Mr. Weld has argued for years that Mr. Trump had dictatorial impulses, he said Thursday that the election-delay idea was “not a legitimate threat.”

“So many dead and the economy in free fall — and what’s his reaction? Delay the election,” Mr. Weld said. “It’s a sign of a mind that’s having a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with reality.”

Mr. Trump has attacked the legitimacy of American elections before, including the one in 2016 that made him president. Even after winning the Electoral College that year, Mr. Trump cast doubt on the popular vote and postulated baselessly that Hillary Clinton’s substantial lead in that metric had been tainted by illegal voting.

With that as precedent, there has never been much doubt — certainly among his opponents — that Mr. Trump would attempt to undercut the election if it appeared likely he would lose it. While Mr. Trump does not have the power to shift the date of the election, there is ample concern among Democrats that his appointees in Washington or his allies in state governments could make a large-scale effort to snarl the process of voting.

Given the extreme nature of Mr. Trump’s suggestion, there was an odd familiarity to the response it garnered from political leaders in both parties. There was no immediate call to the barricades, or renewed push from Democrats for presidential impeachment. Opposition leaders expressed outrage, but most agreed, in public and private, that Mr. Trump’s outburst should be treated as a distress call rather than a real statement of his governing intentions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in government, replied to Mr. Trump’s tweet simply by posting on Twitter the language from the Constitution stating that Congress, not the president, sets the date of national elections. Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, a Democrat who chairs the congressional committee that oversees elections, suggested in no uncertain terms that Mr. Trump’s tweet was another symptom of his inability to master the coronavirus.

“Only Congress can change the date of our elections,” Ms. Lofgren said, “and under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the President’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic, or give credence to the lies and misinformation he spreads regarding the manner in which Americans can safely and securely cast their ballots.”

Republicans, who typically answer the president with a combination of evasion or no comment, did not rush to become profiles in courage by thundering against an out-of-control presidency, and some ducked the issue entirely when confronted by reporters. But many others were blunt in their rejection of Mr. Trump’s position.

“Make no mistake: the election will happen in New Hampshire on November 3rd. End of story,” Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, a Republican who is up for re-election, said on Twitter.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said on Capitol Hill, “Since 1845, we’ve had an election on the first Tuesday after November first and we’re going to have one again this year.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress, echoed that position, saying “we should go forward.”

Others were more equivocal, following a well-worn Republican playbook for avoiding direct conflict with the president over his wilder pronouncements. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked in a Senate hearing whether he believed it was legal for a president to delay an election, said he was “not going to enter a legal judgment on that on the fly this morning.” That would be an assessment, he said, for the Justice Department.

Even Mr. Trump’s campaign declined to turn his tweet into a rallying cry, instead playing down the notion that it might have been a policy prescription. Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for the campaign, said Mr. Trump was “just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting” — an obviously false paraphrase of the president’s tweet, one that minimized the gravity of what Mr. Trump had said.

The timing of Mr. Trump’s tweet, as much as the content, highlighted the extent to which he has become a loud but isolated figure in government, and in the public life of the country. In addition to failing to devise a credible national response to the coronavirus pandemic, he has made no attempt to play the traditional presidential role of calming the country in moments of fear and soothing it in moments of grief.

Never was that more apparent than on Thursday, when Mr. Trump spent the morning posting a combination of incendiary and pedestrian tweets, while his three immediate predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — gathered in Atlanta for the funeral of John Lewis, the congressman and civil rights hero.

As mourners assembled at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mr. Trump had other matters on his mind, like hypothetical election fraud and, as it happened, Italian food.

“Support Patio Pizza and its wonderful owner, Guy Caligiuri, in St. James, Long Island (N.Y.).” the president tweeted, referring to a restaurateur who said he faced backlash for supporting Mr. Trump. “Great Pizza!!!”

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