WH Walks Back Trump Claim That Sheriffs Will Patrol Polling Places

APOPKA, FL - NOVEMBER 06: Signs point to a polling station on South Central Avenue on November 6, 2018 in Apopka, Florida. Turnout is expected to be high nationwide as Democrats hope to take back control of at least... APOPKA, FL - NOVEMBER 06: Signs point to a polling station on South Central Avenue on November 6, 2018 in Apopka, Florida. Turnout is expected to be high nationwide as Democrats hope to take back control of at least one chamber of Congress. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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August 23, 2020 3:19 p.m.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf on Sunday shot down President Trump’s claim that law enforcement will be at polling places on Election Day.

During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity last week, the self-proclaimed President of “law and order” was asked whether there would be “poll watchers” ensuring all voters were registered.

“We’re going to have everything,” Trump told Hannity. “We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to have, hopefully, U.S. attorneys, and we’re going to have everybody and attorneys general. But it’s very hard.”

Meadows, however, denied the notion of “thousands of sheriffs” at polling places on Nov. 3 during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

After Fox News’ Chris Wallace pointed out that law enforcement at polling places  has a history of being used as a voter suppression tactic especially in the South, Meadows argued that the President was trying to convey that “if you want to show up and vote in person, we’re going to make sure that that is safe.”

Meadows then pivoted to absurdly suggesting, without citing specific evidence, that social distancing requirements at polling places may lead to “aggressive behavior.”

“Sometimes in this new COVID response what we’re finding is that because of social distancing, we see a lot more aggressive behavior than I’ve ever seen in a grocery store,” Meadows said, before denying that thousands of sheriffs would be deployed to polling places on Election Day.

“And so to the extent that we are going to deploy thousands of sheriffs — no, we are not going to do that,” Meadows said. “To the extent that we are going to make sure it’s safe and if the judges at those polling places need any kind of security, we are going to make sure they have the resources to do that.”

Wolf similarly denied that the President brought up deploying any of the DHS’ armed agents to polling places during an interview on CNN.

“No, absolutely he has not. Again, that’s not what we do at the Department of Homeland Security,” Wolf said. “We have law enforcement authorities and law enforcement officers at the department. We have express authorities given to us by Congress. And this is not one of them.”

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