As the White House readied an executive order on the conduct on social media platforms, reporters at the press briefing on Thursday focused on the latest source of Donald Trump’s discontent: Twitter’s decision to put fact check links on two of the president’s tweets about mail-in ballots in California.
Earlier this week, in two tweets, Trump claimed that there “is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.
“The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”
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Twitter then put links to fact-checks of Trump’s claims, explaining that the claims could “confuse voters about what they need to do to receive a ballot and participate in the election process.”
At the briefing, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany about the tweets. “The president clearly said things in these tweets that are not true. Do you not acknowledge that?”
She responded, “No I do not acknowledge that.”
Karl then interjected, “You said, for instance, the governor of California was sending out ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there. That is not true. California is sending out ballots to registered voters, not to anybody. That is just not true.”
McEnany then took the opportunity to address the issue of mail-in voting in general.
She cited a Pew study that showed there is “plenty of reason to believe in a mass mail system, there is fraud.” She also pointed to instances of mail-in ballots in Nevada “piling up in apartment complexes, outside of apartment complexes in Las Vegas, sitting around in trash cans. This is how we are protecting ballots? It is extraordinary.” The author of the Pew study, David Becker, wrote in 2016, the year it was published, “We found millions of out of date registration records due to people moving or dying, but found no evidence that voter fraud resulted,” per The Washington Post. The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston wrote on Thursday that the claims of ballots piling up in Las Vegas are exaggerated.
McEnany also cited examples in other states.
“And somehow, in L.A. County, 112% of L.A. County is registered to vote,” she said. “So the problem is this: When you don’t clean your register, and when you auto send out these ballots, they end up in trash cans like in Nevada. They are subject to fraud.”
But Karl was asking about Trump’s claim that ballot would go to “anyone living in the state,” not just registered voters.
“I asked you a specific question,” Karl adding that “sending out ballots to everyone in the state” is a false statement. “Will the president correct that, acknowledge what he said is simply not true?”
McEnany then insisted that California Gov. Gavin Newsom put out an executive order that would “auto send” ballots to voter rolls, and “that would lead to what the president was suggesting.”
Karl again pointed out that California was sending ballots to registered voters, not to “anybody” as Trump said in his tweet.
“It is not to everybody. It is to registered voters,” Karl said.
She responded, “Yes, to everyone, including dead people on the voter rolls, including the mysterious 12% in L.A. county. That is not just everyone, that is everyone plus an extra 12%. The media is very concerned about the security of our elections, but when it comes to mail in ballots, all of the sudden the concern for election security just melts away.”
Later, McEnany denied that Trump was trying to cast doubt on the election in November.
Trump is expected to sign the executive order on Thursday afternoon.
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