White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s continued push to delegitimize mail-in voting, brushing off CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s insistence that there’s no evidence of “widespread voter fraud” by retorting that “there’s no evidence that there’s not, either.”
In a wild and combative State of the Union interview that spanned nearly 30 minutes, Tapper repeatedly pressed the top aide on the president’s admission last week that he is blocking aid to the United States Postal Service in order to impede mail-in voting this fall.
“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in a Thursday interview with Fox Business. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
Meadows, for his part, denied that the president was undercutting the post office as more states shift towards universal mail-in voting. Claiming that Trump is open to additional postal service funding as part of a broader coronavirus stimulus package, Meadows later expressed openness to supporting a standalone bill to expand postal aid.
Tapper, meanwhile, confronted Meadows on reports that high-volume mail sorters were being decommissioned across the nation to slow down delivery, something the Trump aide claimed was a false narrative concocted by Democrats. Meadows even called on the CNN anchor to get one of the host’s producers to “whisper” the facts into his ear, prompting Tapper to circle back to the subject minutes later.
“In terms of the fact check that you asked me to look into, one of my great producers did, it’s in terms of the machines,” Tapper noted. “Chris Bentley, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers’ Union Local 297, which covers Kansas and part of Missouri, two good Trump states, told CNN that postal management has already taken out four machines in Kansas City, two machines in Springfield, Missouri, and one machine in Wichita, Kansas. That is earlier this year under this new postmaster general.”
It was on the subject of mail-in voting and Trump’s repeated false claims that the process is rife with cheating, however, where the interview truly became heated. Tapper noted that despite Team Trump’s loud criticism towards vote-by-mail, both the president and First Lady have requested mail-in ballots this year and at least a half-dozen White House officials and Cabinet members have voted by mail in the past.
“Can you tell me the difference between voting by mail in Florida and, say, voting by mail in Pennsylvania? What’s the difference?” Tapper wondered aloud.
While admitting he couldn’t explain the difference, Meadows went ahead and claimed that universal mail-in voting would leave voters “disenfranchised” as “millions of ballots” could be sent to “empty mailboxes” due to out-of-date voter rolls. Tapper, meanwhile, pointed out that there are several states that have conducted vote-by-mail for years with little to no problem
“But there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud,” Tapper added after Meadows reiterated his concern with voter rolls.
“There’s no evidence that there’s not either. That’s the definition of fraud, Jake,” the chief of staff shot back, causing the CNN anchor to do a double-take.