Jared Kushner, son-in-law to President Donald Trump and a senior White House adviser, has clarified his recent comments causing speculation that the White House may try to push back the November election.
By law, the general election must take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and the president ― let alone a single staffer ― does not have sole authority to change that. It would require an act of Congress.
But Kushner raised eyebrows with his comments in a video interview released Tuesday about the economic crisis wrought by the coronavirus in America.
When a Time magazine reporter asked whether the election could be postponed past Nov. 3, Kushner replied: “It’s not my decision to make, and I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.”
He continued: “Hopefully by the time we get to September, October, November, we’ve done enough work with testing and with all the different things we’re trying to do to prevent a future outbreak of the magnitude that would make us shut down again.”
Kushner issued a clarifying statement to NBC News, saying that he has “not been involved in” nor is he “aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the Presidential election.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic party’s presumed presidential nominee, warned late last month that Trump may try to postpone the election.
“Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Biden told supporters during an online fundraiser.
As the coronavirus crashed plans for the Summer Olympics, a number of festivals and even the Democratic National Convention, some have wondered whether the U.S. general election will be held as planned.
Experts say that massive, widespread testing — to identify even asymptomatic people with the virus so they can be quarantined to protect the general population — is the key to returning to a more normal life. But the U.S. has lagged so far in its testing capabilities, which are now focused mainly on essential workers and people with symptoms.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious disease, has said he hopes to see “a real degree of normality” in American life by Nov. 3.
To protect people who might still feel uncomfortable going to the polls even if testing is adequate by then, however, congressional Democrats are pushing for greater access to mail-in voting.
While Trump has responded to Biden’s assertion by stating that the election will definitely occur as scheduled, he has repeatedly brought up unsubstantiated concerns that mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud, sparking fear that he may challenge the election results if they are unfavorable to him.