Trump campaign calls ad showing Trump criticizing mail-in ballots ‘election interference’

Donald Trump urged his supporters not to vote by mail in 2020, calling the country “totally corrupt.” Now his campaign is speaking out against an ad that includes Trump’s own comments about mail-in ballots.

advertisementrun on some websites in the state, is paid for by Pennsylvania Democratic super PAC and listed as such, but presented to viewers in a frame as coming from the GOP.

“MAGA Patriots, listen to our president!” the ad reads video clips of Trump stating that mail-in voting is “totally corrupt, get that through your head.”

“There was fraud, they were found in streams, some with Trump’s name were found in the trash,” Trump says in a video from the 2020 election. The ad ends with the words: “Stand with President Trump against mail-in voting!”

This year, however, Republicans have reversed course on mail-in voting and are encouraging their supporters to vote by mail.

Trump campaign sent a cease and desist letter on Tuesday to its super PAC, PA Values, threatening legal action and accusing it of airing a false television ad that “may interfere with Trump supporters’ right to cast ballots in Pennsylvania.”

“Pennsylvania Values ​​PAC spreads lies to prevent voters from exercising their right to vote,” said Brian Hughes, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign. “President Trump has made clear that his supporters should use all legal methods to vote in this election. … Claiming otherwise in an ad, as this false television ad does, is a deliberate attempt to mislead Pennsylvania voters, suppress Trump supporters and disrupt a fair election this fall.”

The Trump campaign demanded that the PAC “immediately end the advertising” and said it “expects Pennsylvania law enforcement officials to review this matter immediately.”

PA Values ​​treasurer listed did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump, who has opposed mail-in voting for years, changed his mind this year as Republicans nationwide adopted a pro-mail-voting stance. In Pennsylvania, the state party is running a “Give Your Vote” campaign, encouraging voters to vote by mail.

“So if you want to save America, gather your friends, gather your family, gather everyone you know and vote,” Trump said Saturday at a rally at Temple University. “Vote early, vote by mail, vote by mail, vote in person. I don’t care how they vote, just get out and vote.”

To support its legal claims, the Trump campaign he pointed to the federal law which prohibits conspiring “to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate any person… in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege conferred upon him by the Constitution.”

“Voting is such a right,” the campaign lawyer said.

The campaign also cited a recent federal criminal case in which United States v. Mackeyto support your assessment. In this case, it was Trump supporter Douglass Mackey convicted of violating federal law for sending tweets to black voters in 2016 falsely telling them they could vote by text message or social media hashtag. Mackey is appealing the verdict.

Trump was charged with violating another section of the same law in a criminal case pending in a district court regarding election interference. He falsely claimed to have won the 2020 Pennsylvania presidential election and fought vigorously to overturn the results.

Richard Hasen, director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote an amicus brief In Mackey appeal upholding Mackey’s conviction. Hasen said he didn’t think the Trump campaign would dispute the ad violates federal law. “It’s not the same because the ad doesn’t make a false claim, it just contains Trump’s words. You can’t really lie and tell people that ‘you can’t vote by mail,'” Hasen said.

Still, Hasen said the intent of the ad was dangerous. “I think discouraging people from voting by mail and increasing distrust of the system is despicable,” he said. “…Something may be nefarious, but it’s not illegal.”

PA Values ​​PAC was last active in 2018 when it ran ads against Sen. Bob Casey’s opponent, former Congressman Lou Barletta. The direct mail advertising purchase was relatively small – about $48,000 for digital advertising, according to documents filed with the FEC.

Staff writer Anna Orso contributed to this article.

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