The country’s most outspoken critic of voting by mail has requested his vote-by-mail ballot.
The Palm Beach County elections department in Florida has prepared mail ballots for this Tuesday’s primary election for President Trump and Melania Trump, the first lady, according to local registration records.
The Trumps changed their primary residence last year from Manhattan, which has been less than welcoming to the president since his election, to Mr. Trump’s members-only Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, which had long been their winter home.
How and where a president votes is typically a footnoted formality. But Mr. Trump has broadly questioned the legitimacy of voting by mail, without evidence of significant voter fraud, and made statements suggesting that he views expansion of mail voting as a threat to the Republican Party.
He has sought to deny the option to millions of Americans in states like Nevada, through litigation, while attempting to block additional funding for the Postal Service that he says would be needed to handle a crush of mail-in ballots prompted by the pandemic.
Those moves have raised concerns among Democrats and voting rights groups that he is seeking to undermine the mail-balloting system and lay the groundwork for casting doubt on the November election should he lose.
Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada, a Democrat who recently signed a universal mail-in ballot law, has said Mr. Trump’s fraud claims are unfounded. “We have never had any problems,” he told CNN last week.
Mr. Trump has supported mail-in voting in some states where he says it is secure, including Florida, which he suggested last week could handle mail voting successfully because it had “a great Republican governor” in Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally.
Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said on Thursday, “The president supports absentee voting, not universal mail-in voting, which contain several safeguards that prevent fraud and abuse.”
Mr. Trump suggested Thursday that he was using the funding as a negotiating chip with congressional Democrats on a larger stimulus package. “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” he said. “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”
The Trumps’ ballot request was first reported by The Palm Beach Post. They have until 7 p.m. on Tuesday to return their ballots for the upcoming elections, which include primaries for county commission, state legislature and federal offices.
With President Trump and congressional Democrats fighting over funding the Postal Service, many states — and politicians up for re-election this fall — are grappling with the uncertainty around the expansion of mail-in balloting prompted by the pandemic.
Some key developments in the last 24 hours:
A federal judge in Pittsburgh ordered the Trump campaign to produce proof of voter fraud claims. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan on Thursday ordered Republicans who have challenged Pennsylvania’s expansion of mail-in voting to turn over evidence by the end of today that the system has led to ballot irregularities or face the possible dismissal of their suit.
The state Democratic Party and the Sierra Club, which intervened in the case, had requested that the plaintiffs — the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and Pennsylvania’s Republican Party — turn over specific evidence of fraud, after the Republicans claimed the changes provided “fraudsters an easy opportunity to engage in ballot harvesting” and other manipulations.
“Plaintiffs shall produce such evidence in their possession, and if they have none, state as much,” wrote Mr. Ranjan, a Trump appointee.
Postal Service warns Pennsylvania on deadlines. In a separate Pennsylvania lawsuit, the Postal Service’s general counsel sent a stark warning to state officials late last month over their last-minute attempt expand voting by mail.
Thomas J. Marshall, the counsel, wrote to Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, whose department oversees elections, that some mail ballots might not be delivered on time because the state’s pre-existing deadlines for sending out ballots were too tight for its “delivery standards,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
All New Jersey voters will get mail-in ballots. Gov. Philip D. Murphy announced Friday that every registered voter in the state would be mailed a ballot and could choose whether to vote by mail or in person. “We’re going to have a hybrid model in November,” Mr. Murphy told CNN.
New Jersey, which conducted its July primaries almost entirely by mail, would become the ninth state in the country to automatically send voters mail-in ballots if Mr. Murphy takes the actions he outlined.
The House minority leader signaled Republican support for a post office funding deal. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican and close Trump ally, told CNBC Friday that his members were open to including new cash for mail-in voting in the stalled coronavirus relief package. “The Postal Service will have the funding that it needs,” he said.
President Obama said Mr. Trump was trying to “kneecap” the post office. The former president, speaking on a podcast released Friday, joined the chorus of Democrats accusing his successor of attempted voter suppression.
“What we’ve never seen before is a president say, ‘I’m going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to encourage voting, and I will be explicit about the reason I’m doing it,’” Mr. Obama told David Plouffe.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine broke with Trump on Postal Service funding. Ms. Collins, a Republican facing the toughest re-election campaign of her career, said Thursday that she opposed cuts for the post office and believed that her state’s no-questions-asked mail-in voting system was safe and secure.
Ms. Collins said the concerns Mr. Trump has raised about the voting by mail were “no reason not to support assistance” for the Postal Service, according to The Bangor Daily News.
In a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday, Ms. Collins expressed concern about delays and other service problems reported by constituents, many of whom rely on mail delivery for prescriptions.
“If people cannot depend on the Postal Service for prompt delivery of mail or packages, it will only further hurt the Postal Service’s financial situation,” Ms. Collins said.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. has raised more than $50 million since he named Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, an enormous outpouring of donations that could allow the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to expand the electoral playing field in the final 80-plus days until the election.
On a Biden staff call on Thursday evening, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, the campaign manager, told fellow aides to Mr. Biden that the campaign had raised $48 million in the first 48 hours since Ms. Harris was named to the ticket. The campaign has twice broken its own record for its busiest hour collecting money online: the first time immediately after Ms. Harris was named and the second during her first public speech on Wednesday.
Other Biden officials confirmed the campaign had surpassed the $50 million mark later on Thursday.
To put that sum in perspective, it is more than Ms. Harris raised in her own 2020 presidential bid last year and nearly as much as the $60.8 million that Mr. Biden raised in all of 2019.
And there was not similar financial momentum behind beating Donald J. Trump four years ago: Hillary Clinton raised $89 million combined with the Democratic Party in the entire month of July, the month that she named Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate and held the party’s convention.
One small indicator of the energy for the Biden-Harris ticket: The campaign said it had sold more than $1.2 million in yard signs by the end of Wednesday evening.
On Friday, Ms. Harris and Mr. Biden held a photo op in Delaware to sign documents required to formally receive the nomination at the convention next week. Ms. Harris was asked about being the target of attacks by Mr. Trump and his allies.
“I’m signing this because I am in this race to win,” she said, “and with that guy right there, and we’re going to get it done.” Mr. Biden was also scheduled to attend a virtual fund-raiser on Friday.
Mr. Biden has already announced a $280 million fall television and digital ad reservation across 15 states set to begin on Sept. 1, though the specific amounts in each state have not been detailed or fully booked.
The infusion of cash could allow the Biden campaign to invest more heavily in large and expensive states, such as Ohio and Texas, that are not considered as crucial to winning the Electoral College.
Through July, the Biden campaign had advertised almost exclusively in six states that Mr. Trump won in 2016 — Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona — and that are seen as bellwether battlegrounds for 2020.
Even the most unpredictable presidential campaign has three Big Moments. The first is now behind us, with Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s selection of Kamala Harris for vice president.
The next two are coming up: the conventions — the Democratic event next week, and the Republican one the week after — followed by the debates between the presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
The who-won, who-lost interpretation of debates is often established before any candidate steps onto a stage. And with Ms. Harris in place, that appears to be happening already — to the benefit of Republicans in the vice-presidential debate, and to the benefit of Democrats in the presidential debate.
The coverage of Ms. Harris has focused on her considerable debating skills, on display in the Democratic primary and in her tough questioning in the Senate of, among others, Attorney General William P. Barr.
“Mike Pence is going to have a very, very difficult time in the vice-presidential debate,” Steve Schmidt, a former Republican consultant who is a leader of the Lincoln Project, a group trying to unseat Mr. Trump, said on MSNBC.
So Mr. Pence may be able to credibly claim victory if he merely holds his own.
By contrast, Mr. Trump has — presumably not by design — been lowering expectations for his opponent with his put-downs of Mr. Biden’s mental competence. In truth, while Mr. Biden was not the strongest debater during the Democratic primaries, he did not come across as the doddering 77-year-old that the president has portrayed.
Mr. Trump has set a pretty low bar for Mr. Biden.
“Biden has to just not make a mistake,” said Susan Estrich, who managed the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis, a Democrat. “He’s a former two-term vice president. Nothing he says is scary. Trump can’t win the debate. He has to force Biden to somehow lose it. Literally all Biden has to do is not lose it.”
A Pew Research Center poll on the presidential race offers insights into the partisan divide over voting by mail during the pandemic that has fueled President Trump’s campaign against the practice and, in turn, his opposition to new funding for the Postal Service.
Eighty percent of registered voters who support Mr. Trump or lean toward supporting him said they would rather vote in person — with 60 percent saying they would do so on Election Day and 20 percent saying they planned to vote early.
Only 17 percent of Trump voters or leaners cited voting by mail as a preference.
By contrast, a majority of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s backers — 58 percent — said they preferred voting by mail, according to the poll, which was conducted in late July and early August and released on Thursday.
Those percentages closely track other political metrics associated with the pandemic, particularly support for government mask mandates, which are widely supported by Democrats and moderate independents but opposed by many Republicans.
Pew also found stark illustration of the core demographics behind the limited but bedrock-solid support Mr. Trump enjoys from his base.
Whites without college degrees prefer Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden, 64 percent to 34 percent.
For the rest of the electorate, the ratio flips, to 68 percent for Mr. Biden and 30 percent for Mr. Trump.
The overall result, the poll found, is that Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump 53 percent to 45 percent, a finding consistent with many recent national polls.
President Trump on Friday was expected to travel to Manhattan to visit Robert S. Trump, his brother, who was hospitalized at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and is said to be gravely ill.
Robert Trump, two years younger than the president at age 72, has been ailing for months and was also hospitalized in June.
In recent years he has taken on the role of unofficial family spokesman. He helped the president in an unsuccessful bid to block the publication of a memoir by their niece Mary L. Trump — the daughter of their deceased older brother Fred Trump Jr. — that described decades of family dysfunction and brutality that she claims made Donald Trump into a reckless leader.
Robert Trump, who worked in the family real-estate empire, told The New York Times last month that President Trump was “selfless” — “much more so than anyone would ever realize.”
The president is also expected to speak to a New York City police union Friday evening from his private club in Bedminster, N.J.
President Trump on Thursday encouraged a racist conspiracy theory that is rampant among some of his followers: that Senator Kamala Harris is not eligible for the vice presidency or presidency because her parents were immigrants.
That assertion is false; Ms. Harris was born in California and is eligible to serve.
Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters on Thursday, nevertheless pushed the attack. “I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Mr. Trump said.
“I have no idea if that’s right,” he added. “I would have thought, I would have assumed, that the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president.”
On Friday, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, declined to forcefully disavow the president’s comment, which echoes the “birther” lie, though when pressed said he had no reason to question Ms. Harris’s eligibility.
“Look, at the end of the day, it’s something that’s out there,” Mr. Kushner said on “CBS This Morning,” when asked if Ms. Harris met the constitutional requirements for the office.
Anthony Mason, the interviewer, interrupted to ask: “That’s not what I’m asking. Do you accept that she’s a qualified candidate?”
“I personally have no reason to believe she’s not,” Mr. Kushner responded. “But again my focus for the last 24 hours has been on the historic peace deal” — referring to the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that he helped broker.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and an informal adviser to Mr. Trump, shot down the claim soon after, writing on Twitter that Ms. Harris was “unequivocally an American citizen.”
Mr. Trump, in his Thursday remarks, appeared to be referring to a widely discredited op-ed article published in Newsweek on Wednesday by John C. Eastman, a conservative lawyer who has long argued that the Constitution does not grant birthright citizenship. Ms. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, was born in 1964 in Oakland, Calif., several years after her parents arrived in the United States.
Mr. Eastman’s column tries to raise questions about the citizenship of Ms. Harris’s parents at the time of her birth, and argues that she may have “owed her allegiance to a foreign power or powers” if her parents were “temporary visitors” and not residents.
Constitutional law scholars say the argument against her parents is irrelevant and irresponsible because Ms. Harris was born in California.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office said on Friday that President Trump was not entitled to learn more about the scope of its criminal investigation into his business dealings, rejecting Mr. Trump’s latest effort to block a subpoena for his tax returns.
The office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., wrote in a pair of new court filings that Mr. Trump should be treated like any other recipient of a subpoena, who is typically unable to access details of secret grand jury proceedings.
The filings came in response to Mr. Trump’s renewed efforts this month to stop Mr. Vance’s prosecutors from accessing eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.
Earlier this week, Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that the subpoena was too broad and amounted to illegal harassment. They asked a Manhattan federal judge for a hearing to discuss whether Mr. Vance’s office should be forced to disclose the justifications for the subpoena.
The office had suggested last week that it was investigating the president and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a broader investigation than prosecutors had acknowledged before.
During Ms. Harris’s delicate audition to become Mr. Biden’s running mate, she faced daunting obstacles, including an array of strong competitors, unease about her within the Biden family and bitter feuds from California and the 2020 primary season that exploded anew.
Though Ms. Harris was seen from the start as a front-runner, Mr. Biden did not begin the process with a favorite in mind. Interviews with more than three dozen people involved in the vice-presidential search — including advisers to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, allies of other prospects and Democratic leaders — showed that he settled on her only after an exhaustive review that forged new political alliances, deepened existing rivalries and further elevated a cohort of women as leaders in their party.
Ms. Harris was one of four finalists for the job, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser. But in the eyes of Mr. Biden and his advisers, Ms. Harris alone covered every one of their essential political needs.
Ms. Rice had sterling foreign-policy credentials and a history of working with Mr. Biden, but was inexperienced as a candidate. Ms. Warren had an enthusiastic following and became a trusted adviser to Mr. Biden on economic matters, but she represented neither generational nor racial diversity. Ms. Whitmer, a moderate, appealed to Mr. Biden’s political and ideological instincts, but selecting her also would have yielded an all-white ticket.
Other candidates rose and faded in the process: Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois powerfully impressed Mr. Biden’s search team, but his lawyers feared she would face challenges to her eligibility because of the circumstances of her birth overseas. Representative Karen Bass of California emerged as a favorite among elected officials and progressives — Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke glowingly of her to Mr. Biden — but the relationship-focused Mr. Biden barely knew her.
In the end, Mr. Biden embraced Ms. Harris as a partner for reasons that were both pragmatic and personal — a sign of how the former vice president, who is oriented toward seeking consensus and building broad coalitions, might be expected to govern. Indeed, Mr. Biden has already told allies he hopes a number of the other vice-presidential contenders will join his administration in other roles.
Mr. Trump said in an interview Thursday that he planned to deliver his renomination speech for the Republican National Convention from the South Lawn at the White House, a move that raises legal questions about using federal property for campaign purposes.
“I’ll probably be giving my speech at the White House because it is a great place. It’s a place that makes me feel good, it makes the country feel good,” Mr. Trump told The New York Post. “We’d do it possibly outside on one of the lawns, we have various lawns, so we could have it outside in terms of the China virus,” he said, using a term widely criticized as xenophobic to refer to the coronavirus pandemic.
Melania Trump, the first lady, is expected to deliver her speech from the White House residence, according to a person familiar with the plans. And Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a senior White House adviser, is expected to have a prime-time speaking slot on the same night as her father, and also deliver her speech from the White House, the person said. Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, is set to deliver his convention speech from the Fort McHenry monument in Baltimore.
Fort McHenry is also federal property run by the National Park Service, and ethics experts have raised questions about public servants using federal property for political purposes.
Mr. Trump had previously said he was still deciding between giving the speech at the White House or at the Gettysburg battlefield, after plans for a convention in Charlotte, N.C., and then in Jacksonville, Fla., had both been scrapped because of health concerns about bringing a large group of people together in the middle of a pandemic.
But using the White House as the backdrop for one of the peak political moments of the fall campaign raises questions about whether it would be a breach of the Hatch Act, a Depression-era law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while on the job. Mr. Trump himself is not subject to the act. But everyone who works for him, and who would be involved in setting up the event, would be.
In his interview with The New York Post, Mr. Trump did not address the legal issues. Instead, he appeared to be more concerned with ensuring that he would deliver the address in front of a crowd of supporters. “We could have quite a group of people. It’s very big, a very big lawn. We could have a big group of people,” he said.