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Trump can't delay the election. But can he delegitimize it?

Jon Lieber, Managing Director for the United States at the Eurasia Group, shares his perspective on US politics - from the Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., where the baseball season began last week, even though it may not last very long.

First question, Trump tweeted about delaying the election. What's the deal?

Well, Trump can't delay the election. Only Congress can delay the election. And Congress is not going to delay the election. Bipartisan agreement here. Election has never been delayed. Not for the Civil War. Not the World War II. Not going to happen in coronavirus. What Trump can do, however, is delegitimize the results of the election in the mind of his supporters by calling into question the efficacy of vote-by-mail, which will be a huge factor in the November election due to the coronavirus. If enough people question the accuracy of vote-by-mail, that may give them grounds for challenging the election results in a close swing state, in a close election in November, which could lead to prolonged legal battles. And even if it doesn't, it could cause a lot of people to question the legitimacy of Joe Biden's presidency, should he win without any contest.

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Biden goes to China

Donald Trump can still win re-election in November, but foreign governments read the same polls we do. They know that Joe Biden heads into the homestretch with a sizeable polling lead — both nationally and in the states most likely to decide the outcome. Naturally, they're thinking ahead to what a Biden foreign policy might look like.

They're probably glad that Biden gives them a half-century track record to study. (He was first elected to local office in 1970 and to the US Senate in 1972.) The six years he spent as ranking member, then chairman, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his term as co-chairman of the Senate's NATO Observer Group, and his eight years as Barack Obama's vice president tell them that he's essentially a "liberal internationalist," a person who believes that America must lead a global advance of democracy and freedom — and that close cooperation with allies is essential for success.

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What We're Watching: Zimbabwe's anti-government protests, China's "dark fleet," Trump calls for election delay

President feels the heat in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's security forces are clearing the streets of the capital, Harare, ahead of a planned anti-government protest on Friday, as the country reels from the worst economic crisis in a decade. Activists have called on Zimbabweans to take to the streets to demand the government do more to address rampant corruption and hyperinflation — which is precisely what President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to do when he took over from longtime strongman Robert Mugabe after a 2017 coup. Since then, however, citizens have continued to see government officials accused of graft, while annual inflation has soared to over 737 percent. Salaries and pensions in local currency are now worth so little that nurses have gone on strike until they get paid in US dollars, causing a shortage that this week led to seven stillborn babies born in one night at a major hospital in Harare. To make matters worse, Mnangagwa's critics claim that the president and his allies are using coronavirus-related emergency powers to arrest countless dissidents among the over 100,000 people detained for violating lockdown rules since March.

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Countdown to the (possibly contested) US election

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Normalcy is incrementally coming to the United States, if not yet to a lot of developing markets, but certainly to Europe, certainly to China. And I haven't spent a lot of time talking about the US election yet, certainly nothing close to the media coverage. I thought I would today because we've got 99 days until November 3rd. You say 100 days yesterday, sounds like a bigger deal, but that's only because we have a base 10 numeric system. If we had a base three numeric system, 99 days out would be pretty meaningful, right? But no, I thought let's finally, right, we've got these massive, incredibly expensive, billions of dollars spent, a year and a half of the entire process, I mean, by far a greater subversion of democracy, the way the US elections are held than any other advanced industrial democracy in the world. We all know it. Democrats, Republicans, people sick of the party system. We all recognize nothing can be done about it. It's fantastic for special interests that spend an immense amount of money trying to ensure that candidates do their bidding. But now that we are only 99 days out, political polls really do start to matter. We know who the candidates are on both sides. We don't yet have the V.P. on the Biden side. But still, I mean, we're pretty close. 100 days out, 99 days out, you feel like you can start paying attention.

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US-China relations all-time low; federal troops in Portland; Biden's pick

Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, provides his perspective on US Politics In 60 Seconds - this week from in front of the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C., which is currently behind barricades because some protesters want to tear it down.

First question, with the tit for tat escalation of closing consulates between the US and China, are US-China relations at an all-time low?

Well, they're certainly not very good. And probably the most important marker was a really tough speech given by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Nixon Center in California. Perhaps important for its symbolism, that this is an end of an era of engagement that began with President Nixon in 1969. You've got a lot of escalating factors. You've got these closing embassies, accusations of espionage by the Chinese, the potential banning of TikTok. And WeChat in the US. You've got the potential banning of Huawei. And, of course, you've got the ongoing trade war and sanctions. Now, the trade war may become less important as a factor, along with the other worsening parts of this relationship. The Chinese have retaliated so far proportionately. They don't want to be seen as the ones escalating this advance of a presidential election.

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