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Kushner Causes a Fuss Over Possible Election Delay

He clarifies comments, says he knows of no discussions to postpone November vote
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2020 10:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Joe Biden, for one, thinks President Trump will try to postpone the November 3 election. Trump himself has adamantly denied this, insisting as recently as last month that the vote will take place as scheduled. Now Jared Kushner has injected a new dose of controversy into the issue with comments to Time magazine. He seemed to suggest the date wasn't set in stone, only to clarify later that he knows of no plans to change it. Coverage:

  • What he said: When he was asked, "Is there any scenario, including a second outbreak in the fall, where the election is moved past November 3?" Kushner said, "That's too far in the future to tell," per the Daily Beast. The interviewer pressed, "Well, will you commit that the elections will happen on November 3?" and Kushner responded, "It's not my decision to make, so I'm not sure I can commit one way or the other. But right now, that's the plan," per CNN.
  • Clarification: The comments caused a ruckus, and Kushner later clarified in a statement, per NBC News: "I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the presidential election."

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  • The law: Federal law states that Election Day takes place on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and the president doesn't have the authority to change that, reports the New York Times. Only Congress could postpone the date, notes CNN, citing this report by the Congressional Research Service. The Constitution doesn't say anything about an election date, though under its stipulations, Trump's term ends on Jan. 20, 2021.
  • The critics: Kushner's initial statement had critics pouncing, reports the Washington Post. For instance, conservative commenter Bill Kristol tweeted, "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."
  • Critics, II: Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund faulted both Kushner and Time. "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?" she wrote. "Even putting this question to him is an insult to the rule of law."
  • One take: Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast suggests that Kushner was sending up a "trial balloon" on behalf of the White House about a possible postponement. In his initial answer, he seemed to link the decision to the nation's success on the virus. "Hopefully—by the time we get to September or October or November, we've done enough with the testing and all the different things we're trying to do, to prevent an outbreak of the magnitude that would make us shut down again,” he said.
(Read more Jared Kushner stories.)

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