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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump told Politico in an Oval Office interview published Friday that mail-in voting poses the "biggest risk" to his re-election prospects —all as the Republican Party funnels millions of dollars into lawsuits meant to limit the process.

Why it matters: Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting leads to voter fraud.

What he's saying: "My biggest risk is that we don’t win lawsuits. We have many lawsuits going all over. And if we don't win those lawsuits, I think — I think it puts the election at risk," Trump told Politico regarding the mail-in battle.

  • He also said that Hillary Clinton was "obviously smarter" than Joe Biden. "I can tell you a lot about Hillary. ... She had a lot of energy and she was smart," he added.

Go deeper: FEC commissioner refutes Trump's voter fraud claims

Go deeper

Sanders: "This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy"

Photo: BernieSanders.com

In an urgent appeal on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said President Trump presented "unique threats to our democracy" and detailed a plan to ensure the election results will be honored and that voters can cast their ballots safely.

Driving the news: When asked yesterday whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, Trump would not, and said: "We're going to have to see what happens."

Meadows on Wray's voter fraud dismissal: "He has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI"

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows dismissed FBI Director Chris Wray's testimony that the U.S. has never historically seen evidence of widespread voter fraud, including by mail, during an appearance on "CBS This Morning" on Friday.

Why it matters: Meadows' statement highlights the Trump administration's strategy to sow doubt in November's election results by challenging the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which are expected to skew heavily in Democrats' favor.

Democrats' mail voting pivot

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democrats spent the early months of the coronavirus pandemic urging their base to vote absentee. But as threats of U.S. Postal Service delays, Team Trump litigation and higher ballot rejection rates become clearer, many are pivoting to promote more in-person voting as well.

Why it matters: Democrats are exponentially more likely to vote by mail than Republicans this year — and if enough mail-in ballots are lost, rejected on a technicality or undercounted, it could change the outcome of the presidential election or other key races.