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.


Second question, with COVID relief measures set to expire, where are congressional talks on another stimulus bill?

Well, congressional talks are going nowhere fast. The Democrats think they have a very strong hand, the Republicans aren't unified, and the administration seems to be spinning around in circles. However, the second quarter GDP numbers that came out this week were very bad, the worst in American history, and if Congress doesn't act, you're likely to see an increase in layoffs, business bankruptcies, and evictions all throughout August and September, which is not a great tailwind for a president who wants to get reelected. So, there's an obvious compromise sitting out there, a position between where the Republicans are and where the Democrats are, and so we still think something gets done on this sometime next week.

Third question, will the death of former presidential candidate Herman Cain change anyone's mind about the coronavirus?

Probably not. Cain may have caught the coronavirus at Trump's Tulsa rally, but that's impossible to prove. And while some liberals are using this to shame people about mask wearing and proper social distancing, most conservatives will just meet that with derision. Though this could be a cautionary tale, it's unlikely it will change anyone's mind. It is notable, however, that since the Tulsa rally, the president has really changed his messaging around the coronavirus, encouraging masking and taking this much more seriously, including canceling his convention acceptance speech in Jacksonville, Florida. This probably reflects the fact that the president knows he's really far behind Joe Biden in public opinion polling on the handling the coronavirus. He's got a lot of ground to make up.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

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