‘He has no such power’: DC Attorney General on Trump deploying law enforcement poll watchers

D.C.’s Attorney General is directly challenging President Donald Trump’s claim that he can authorize law enforcement to monitor the voting process on Election Day.

In a statement about securing the upcoming presidential election, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said it’s illegal based on District and federal law to do so.

“He has no such power,” said Racine in a press release.

“We’re seeing continued attempts by the Trump Administration to intentionally and unlawfully undermine the American people’s trust in a free and fair election process,” Racine said. “It is unlawful to threaten, intimidate or coerce District residents who choose to vote by mail or in-person.”

Racine’s office referred to Trump’s response during an interview in August, in which the president said they’re going to have “sheriffs and law enforcement and we’re going to have, hopefully, U.S. attorneys, and we’re going to have everybody, and attorney generals.”

“That is absolutely inaccurate,” D.C. Deputy Attorney General Kate Konopka told WTOP.

'Any poll monitor or watcher would have to be authorized by the D.C. Board of Elections,' D.C. Deputy Attorney General Kate Konopka says

“There are a number of both D.C. and federal laws that prevent unauthorized poll watchers. In fact, any poll monitor or watcher would have to be authorized by the D.C. Board of Elections,” she said.

But apparently it doesn’t completely stop the Trump campaign from sending any poll watchers at all.

POLITICO reported that the Republican National Committee is free to enlist tens of thousands of volunteers to fan out across the country to monitor and report any issues.

WTOP asked Konopka if Trump was trying to intimidate poor Democratic Black and brown voters by threatening to send in law enforcement to monitor polls.

“To the extent that it [Trump’s claim] could serve to be a chilling effect on any member in D.C. on voting, we want to make sure that that does not happen,” Konopka said.

Trump has consistently cast doubt on the entire election process, suggesting widespread fraud that could impact the results.

As recently as this Friday, Trump tweeted about reports that some 50,000 Ohio voters were receiving the wrong absentee ballots, exclaiming it’s “A Rigged Election!”

Konopka was asked if the attorney general’s office is actively investigating any cases concerning potential mistakes made with mail-in ballots or misplacement of ballots in D.C.

“We have not received any reports to that effect right now,” Konopka said.

Racine’s office said it will “ensure a free and fair election for our residents.”

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Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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