By Robert A. Vella
Right now in Belarus, the country is erupting in protest over its authoritarian president’s (i.e. Alexander Lukashenko) rigging of the election in his favor (see our international news coverage near the end of this post). As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow detailed recently, this is how dictators destroy democracy and hold onto political power. Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing in the United States. Faced with looming defeat in November, he is desperately attempting to suppress voter turnout and subvert the will of the people in any way possible. If he succeeds, the violence ripping Belarus apart will pale in comparison to the chaos which will strike the streets of America. It is the duty of every public official serving in federal and state government, regardless of political party or ideological belief, to ensure that the 2020 election is conducted fairly and constitutionally. It is also the duty of every American citizen to vote and to take every precaution to ensure that their vote is counted.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has expanded his national lead over President Trump to double digits, according to an NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll released Friday.
The former vice president received 53 percent of the vote in the poll, ahead of Trump’s 42 percent. In June, Biden held an 8-point lead over Trump.
The poll was mostly conducted prior to Biden announcing Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his vice presidential pick on Tuesday.
Biden also did significantly better than Trump among voters who said they disliked both candidates, with 52 percent saying they would vote for the former vice president, compared to 33 percent who said they would vote for Trump.
In 2016, exit polls found Trump did well among voters who said they disliked then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Half of all respondents said they will cast their votes in person, up from 38 percent who said the same in May, while 43 percent said they will mail in their ballots, down from 50 percent in May. Biden supporters were significantly more likely to plan to vote by mail than Trump supporters.
The appointments of the top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security violated federal law, the Government Accountability Office said on Friday.
GAO, which is an independent watchdog agency that reports to Congress, said that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and his deputy Kenneth Cuccinelli are serving under an invalid order of succession under the Vacancies Reform Act.
The Vacancies Reform Act governs how temporary appointments can be made to positions that require Senate confirmation. President Trump has repeatedly circumvented the Senate confirmation process by placing people in acting positions — including Wolf and Cuccinnelli, whose official title is Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
Those two appointments violated the act, GAO said, because of the sequence of events following the resignation of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April of last year. The official who assumed the title of acting secretary at that time, Kevin McAleenan, had not been designated in the order of succession, GAO said.
Subsequent personnel moves also were invalid, and Wolf and Cuccinnelli “are serving under an invalid order of succession,” the agency said.
GAO said it was referring the matter to the DHS inspector general for reviews, and that any further actions would be up to Congress and the IG.