House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused President Trump of being “afraid of the American people” in his pushback against funding for universal mail-in ballots as part of a new round of economic stimulus.
“The president is afraid of the American people. He’s been afraid for a while, he knows on the legit it’d be hard for him to win so he wants to put up obstacles of participation,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said.
Pelosi made the remarks at a press conference hours after Trump had told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo that Democratic demands for the funding was holding up what would be the fourth economic stimulus relief package.
"They want $3.5 billion for something that's fraudulent ... for the mail-in votes, universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion for the post office. They need that money so it can work and they can take these millions and millions of ballots."
Trump added: "But if they don't get those two items, then they can't have mail-in ballots."
Trump has long railed against the practice, saying it will lead to widespread fraud, a claim that Democrats have dismissed. On Friday, he claimed that ballots have been “sent to dogs” and "dead people” and cited cases such as New York, where there have been delays for primary races for weeks.
The Republican National Committee had asked the Supreme Court to intervene in a case in Rhode Island where officials sought to eliminate the state’s requirements for witness and notary requirements for voting by mail because of the coronavirus crisis. The court rejected the RNC's request Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has sued two Iowa counties seeking to make it easier to vote by mail by sending registered voters forms with information already filled in – including names, dates of birth and voting pin numbers. Voters just have to review, sign and return the forms to get ballots in October that they can mail back or drop off, avoiding crowded polling places.
Democrats, like Pelosi, have accused Trump of overblowing limited cases of mismanagement or fraud and of trying to suppress the vote in a way that will benefit him in November. They argue that mail-in voting is necessary due to the risk of the spread of coronavirus.
“But we don’t agonize, we organize,” Pelosi said. “And whatever the reality is that we have to deal with, if he refuses to honor the sacred right of the vote enabling, removing obstacles of participation, if he wants to undermine the Post Office ... that’s most unfortunate but we will have the volunteer power to make sure that our vote gets out early and that it gets out in a way that has a clear decision on Election Day.”
Trump has dismissed the idea that there was a problem with in-person voting despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“They voted in World War I and in World War II,” Trump said. “They should have voter ID because Democrats scammed the system.”
Fox News' Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.