‘We Have Law Enforcement Watching’

At a White House rally on Saturday, President Donald Trump doubled-down on his claims of “crooked” and “fraudulent” ballots found and submitted for the upcoming presidential election, repeating that there are “tremendous problems” with mail-in voting.



a crowd of people standing in front of a building: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally in support of law and order on the South Lawn of the White House on October 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump invited over two thousand guests to hear him speak just a week after he was hospitalized for COVID-19.


© Samuel Corum/Getty Images/Getty
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally in support of law and order on the South Lawn of the White House on October 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump invited over two thousand guests to hear him speak just a week after he was hospitalized for COVID-19.

“Did you see how many crooked ballots are being found and turned back in and fraudulent? Just what I said,” the president said during his 20-minute speech. “Then they’ll say, ‘He doesn’t believe in freedom.’ I totally believe in freedom…what we’re doing is freedom.”

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He cited the nearly 50,000 voters who received incorrect absentee ballots this week in Franklin County—home to Ohio’s capital and largest city—accounting for almost 21% of the ballots sent out in the county. Franklin County residents reported misprinted information on the ballot, including for a congressional race.

The county’s Board of Elections released a statement on Friday stating that all replacement ballots will be sent out and received within 72 hours and that every voter will be allotted only one ballot while sorting systems will not accept replacement ballots submitted by any individual who voted in-person.

“We want to make it clear that every voter who received an inaccurate ballot will receive a corrected ballot,” the statement reads. “Stringent tracking measures are in place to guarantee that a voter can only cast one vote.”

The Franklin County error was one of several isolated incidents tweeted out by Trump this week to back his claims that mail-in voting is filled with fraud. He also pointed to a New Jersey postal employee accused of dumping 99 ballots—which were placed back in the mail stream for delivery—and a Texas mayoral candidate arrested by the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, for forging at least 84 voter registration applications.

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Trump proceeded to falsely state that “every day” there’s a story about fraudulent ballots.

Although cases of voting fraud remain extremely rare, the president has utilized his social media and campaigning platform to hone in on isolated errors in the voting system and amplify false and unfounded claims that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud.

“Some thrown out, they happen to have the name Trump,” he said during the rally, referring to a small number of military ballots that were allegedly “discarded” in Pennsylvania last month.

In a statement on September 24, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, David Freed, announced that his office and the FBI were investigating this incident, which occurred in Luzerne County. Freed said that the nine recovered military ballots were found in an outside dumpster, “improperly opened” by the election staff and “discarded.”

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White House directs agencies to relax enforcement

A memo produced by the White House and sent to agency heads last week instructs them to make significant changes to how and when they bring enforcement cases, telling them not to open multiple investigations into the same company and urging them to seek political appointees’ approval before proceeding with an inquiry.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Enforcement of federal statutes and regulations has declined under President Trump. (Associated Press)


© Provided by The LA Times
Enforcement of federal statutes and regulations has declined under President Trump. (Associated Press)

The new guidance, released Aug. 31, came from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA, a unit of the White House that does not typically get involved in enforcement policy.

Building off President Trump’s May executive order calling for agencies to do away with regulatory hurdles in order to boost the economy, the memo lists “best practices” for enforcing the nation’s laws and regulations. Critics of the administration said it could be used to entangle agencies, potentially stymieing investigations and giving the upper hand to companies suspected of wrongdoing.

John C. Cruden, a former Justice Department official in the Obama administration, called the memo “unprecedented.”

“At a time in our nation’s history when even-handed, statutory-based enforcement should be vigorously supported and encouraged, this policy goes in the opposite direction,” said Cruden, who served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. He added that the memo “provides an excuse for agencies to reduce or eliminate enforcement.”

Under Trump, enforcement has already slowed. The Environmental Protection Agency’s penalties for polluters are down, there are fewer inspectors working for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and financial penalties against corporations and banks accused of wrongdoing have declined.

Critics of the administration said that amid this concerted push to deregulate, the memo sends a message to agencies to pull back even more.

Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer watchdog organization, said the memo could have ramifications for enforcement of regulations concerning the environment, public health and the financial markets. Narang and other government watchdogs said the memo could result in agencies easing up on investigations into polluters and workplace safety matters, curtailing surprise inspections and even placing time limits on investigations before they have started.

“This whole memo is an exercise in what industry would like regulatory enforcement to look like,” Narang said. “This is almost a wish list for industry.”

A spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget, which oversees OIRA, said the document and the executive order on which it is based “protect both individuals and small businesses while at the same time enforcing the law against wrongdoers.”

The memo focuses on administrative cases, which make up the bulk of the federal government’s enforcement activity. These are usually smaller, less severe cases that can result in fines and orders requiring companies or individuals to take steps to prevent future violations.

Though there are already rules dictating the steps agency employees must follow in order to bring an enforcement action, the White House document

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