Trump’s coronavirus underestimation threatens constitutional crisis, says NORMAN ORNSTEIN | World | News

There were probably two reasons. One, as he said at a recent briefing, is he hates to give any bad news. The second, probably more important, was the stock market plunge. Mr Trump’s mantra for three years has been that you can’t afford to vote against him – look at the stock market.

This was a direct threat, and he was desperate to turn it around. Of course, he also has no understanding of the science, and little ability to rely on true experts unless he is convinced that their advice will help him politically.

The public increase in support for his handling of the crisis is classic rally around the flag, but is dissipating.

And we do not know what will happen when the deaths begin to hit states and areas which are his core support – places that have not engaged in social distancing.

The challenge to Democratic challenger Joe Biden was underscored recently, when his town hall meeting was ignored by networks which instead televised a hastily called and aimless “press conference” feautring Mr Trump.

But we do not know what it will be like in the Fall, when it matters, when people focus more on the election.

The biggest challenge to Mr Biden is probably the Trump and GOP willingness to use the pandemic to double down on voter suppression.

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The potential is there for a major constitutional crisis.

A president has no legal authority to postpone an election, but he can disrupt it by closing polling places in key areas for Democrats, and using his allies among governors, state legislatures and election officials to help.

Watch the resistance by Republicans to expanding vote by mail, the best insurance to having a valid election.

When it came to pandemic preparation, some did listen, and the Obama administration tried very hard, via the tabletop exercise, the unit within the National Security Council (NSC), the plans to stockpile equipment.

But they faced the problem that is endemic, the lack of willingness to spend a great deal of money and effort on a theoretical problem that is off in the future.

* Norman Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies politics, elections, and the US Congress. He is a cohost of AEI’s Election Watch series, a contributing editor and columnist for National Journal and The Atlantic, a BBC News election analyst, and the chairman of the Campaign Legal Center.

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