As Michigan struggles, Trump eyes new extortion scheme

How much madness did Trump pack into a tweet consisting of only 48 words? Let's run through a Top 10 Reasons The President's Tweet Was Completely Bonkers.
Image: Michigan flooding
Floodwaters are seen along a street in downtown Sanford, Mich., on May 19, 2020.TC VORTEX / via Reuters

Michigan was already hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, and now it's dealing with another round of devastating conditions. Brutal flooding in the state has breached two dams, forcing thousands of Michigan residents to evacuate in what the National Weather Service has described as a "life-threatening situation."

It was against this backdrop that Donald Trump thought it'd be a good idea to publish a tweet this morning, threatening to cut off Michigan's federal funding.

"Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!"

In a follow-up tweet tied to this missive, the president cc'd White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House Budget Chief Russ Vought, and the U.S. Treasury Department.

How much madness did Trump pack into a tweet consisting of only 48 words? Let's pause to run through the Top 10 Reasons The President's Tweet Was Completely Bonkers.

10. Michigan isn't sending absentee ballots to all of the state's registered voters; it's sending applications for absentee ballots.

9. Trump likes to pretend "illegal" is simply a word used to describe things he doesn't like, but making applications for absentee ballots available during a pandemic is both legal and common.

8. Voting by way of absentee ballots is not "fraud." The president himself used an absentee ballot in the last election cycle.

7. Trump has a weird habit of threatening American states during times of crisis. Note, for example, that the Republican also threatened to cut off federal funding for California during a recent wildfire crisis.

6. Michigan is a key 2020 battleground state. Threatening to cut off its federal support in the midst of two ongoing crises probably isn't a politically smart move.

5. Trump scrambling to fight against efforts to make it easier for Americans to vote reflects a degree of panic and cowardice.

4. Soon after threatening Michigan, the president made the same threat against Nevada, another swing state that's done nothing wrong.

3. Trump doesn't have the authority to block federal funding in order to make it harder for Americans to vote.

2. According to some legal experts, withholding federal funding over unrelated policy disagreements is itself illegal.

1. Six months after Trump was impeached for an extortion scheme in which he held up federal funding in the hopes of steering an election, he's prepared to launch another extortion scheme in which he intends to hold up federal funding in the hopes of steering an election.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) assured the public that the president learned a valuable lesson from his impeachment ordeal. How's that working out, senator?

Postscript: If Trump had privately threatened Michigan, telling it to limit ballot access or risk federal aid, and the quid pro quo leaked, it'd be on the front page of the major dailies. This president, however, put the same threat on Twitter for all the world to see.