White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany dodged Wednesday when asked what, exactly, was illegal about Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sending out absentee voting applications to all registered voters in the state, after President Trump went after the state official on Twitter earlier in the day.
Trump criticized Benson’s mail-in voting initiative in a series of tweets early Wednesday, erroneously alleging that she sent out absentee ballots and threatening to withhold federal funding to the swing state as a result. Trump later reposted the same tweet, clarifying that Michigan voters were being sent mail-in voting applications and not absentee ballots.
After declining to go into specifics about the federal funding that would be withheld from the state, McEnany said that Trump’s tweets were meant to “alert” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and OMB Director Russell Vought about his concerns of “a lot of fraud that is potentially at play” regarding mail-in voting. There’s no evidence that mail-in voting is ripe for fraud.
McEnany then deferred to the Trump campaign when it comes to the “illegality and legality” of withholding federal funds over the key swing state’s voting practices.
After telling reporters Trump supports mail-in voting — which he did during Florida’s primary election in March — “for a reason,” McEnany repeatedly declined to specify what exactly was illegal about the Michigan secretary of state’s efforts. She referred the questions to the Trump campaign.
Shortly after the briefing ended, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh defended the President’s tweets.
.@realDonaldTrump is correct. There is no statutory authority for the secretary of state in Michigan to send absentee ballot applications to all voters. Existing case law in Michigan supports that conclusion as well. https://t.co/Ku6bwIPnYl
— Tim Murtaugh – Download the Trump 2020 app today! (@TimMurtaugh) May 20, 2020
Reporter: "There's no evidence that there is widespread voter fraud in mail-in votes."
Kayleigh McEnany: "There is evidence." pic.twitter.com/xygbbh36oj
— The Hill (@thehill) May 20, 2020