The president said how ‘legit’ the 2022 elections were would be in ‘proportion’ to Democrats’ ability to pass voting rights legislationJoe Biden accused of undermining democracy after claiming upcoming US elections could be ‘illegitimate’
Joe Biden has been accused of undermining democracy by echoing Donald Trump’s claims that US elections may be “illegitimate”.
The US president said the legitimacy of November’s midterm elections, which could lose his party control of Congress, would depend on the Democrats’ ability to pass voting reforms.
In a rare press conference, Mr Biden argued a raft of voting laws enacted by Republican state legislatures had imperilled the democratic process.
“It all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election,” he told White House reporters as he marked his first year in power.
He later aligned the Democrats’ ability to enact voting rights legislation with the legitimacy of future elections.
“I’m not saying it’s [the 2022 election] going to be legit, as the increase in the prospect of being illegitimate is a direct proportion to us not being able to get these reforms passed,” he said.Advertisementhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.495.1_en.html#goog_1530555840Advertisement : 15 sec
The comments were widely derided by Mr Biden’s critics, who compared the remarks with the unsubstantiated voter fraud claims put forward by the president’s predecessor.
Republican senator Mitt Romney said: “It’s the same path that Donald Trump went down, which is… an unfortunate and potentially dangerous course to take for the leader of democracy.”
Mr Biden also received immediate pushback from his own party. Senator Ben Cardin said of the president’s remarks: “I don’t know if I’d use those terms.”
Senator Joe Manchin said: “We might have a little difference of opinion on that one”.
It came after Mr Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, and his ally Kyrsten Sinema, broke with the Democrats’ attempt to push through Mr Biden’s voting bills without Republican support.
Democratic senators had attempted to scrap the filibuster, an arcane rule requiring 60 out of 100 senators to pass certain legislation, in order to advance their voting rights bill.
Mr Manchin and Ms Sinema refused to support the rule change, with the former calling it a “perilous course” that would sow further division, effectively dooming the legislation.
The White House sought to clarify Mr Biden’s comments over the legitimacy of future elections.
The president’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Lets be clear: [Mr Biden] was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election.”
Mr Trump also weighed in, saying: “President Biden admitted yesterday, in his own very different way, that the 2020 election may very well have been a fraud, which I know it was.”