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President Trump appeared to walk back his earlier threat on Wednesday to withhold unspecified federal funding to Michigan after attacking the state for expanding voting-by-mail options during the pandemic, telling reporters that he doesn't think it will be "necessary."

Catch up quick: Trump incorrectly tweeted Wednesday morning that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had sent all of the state's citizens mail-in ballots. He later issued a corrected tweet specifying that Benson had only sent citizens mail-in ballot applications.

  • Trump's tweets claimed the move was "done illegally and without authorization" and that he would ask to "hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path."
  • There is no evidence that the move to send out absentee ballot applications is illegal, and it's unclear whether the president has the power to alter or withhold any appropriated funds to states without congressional approval.
  • Trump did not threaten states with Republican governors like Georgia and Iowa that are also sending absentee ballot applications to all voters.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed at a press conference that "many" mail-in ballots can be "fraudulent," but declined to say what Trump thought was illegal about Michigan's move. She deferred further questions to the Trump campaign.

  • While Trump seemed to walk back the threat to withhold federal funding, he said that he believes "mail-in ballots are a very dangerous thing" and are "subject to massive fraud."

Between the lines: Many states have placed an increased emphasis on access to early voting this year in order to promote social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • But the Republican Party and Trump's re-election campaign have largely sought to push back against attempts to expand mail-in voting.
  • "Democrats are trying to use coronavirus and the courts to legalize ballot harvesting, implement a nationwide mail-in ballot system, and eliminate nearly every safeguard in our elections," a newly launched site by the Republican National Committee reads.

Experts have found voting fraud to be rare in the U.S., but do conclude that mail-in voting is more susceptible, per the New York Times.

Go deeper

RNC chairwoman chides Hillary Clinton for advising Biden to not concede election results

Screenshot: Axios Events

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Wednesday called for "an uproar from Democrat media" after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly advised presidential candidate Joe Biden to not concede the election "under any circumstances."

What she's saying: During an Axios virtual event, McDaniel said: "I think there should be an uproar from the Democrat media that attacks Donald Trump anytime he says anything about mail-in voting. If I had said that the president shouldn't accept the results of an election, it would be wall to wall coverage."

46 mins ago - Technology

Ex-N.Y. Post digital chief files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment

Richard B. Levine) (Photo by Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Former New York Post editor Michelle Gotthelf is suing her former employer, its parent company News Corp. and two editors, alleging she was reprimanded after complaining to senior executives that she was sexually harassed by retired N.Y. Post editor-in-chief Col Allan. The N.Y. Post issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: "I felt that I owed it to myself and I owed it to the news organization and the people who answered to me," Gotthelf, who was a long time editor at the N.Y. Post, told Axios in an interview.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Political consultants pocket taxpayer cash

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Members of Congress are turning to the same political consultants who got them elected to blast out taxpayer-funded communications from their government offices, records show.

Why it matters: While those members are barred from politicking with official funds, the firms have expertise in boosting elected officials' images for political gain and are in high demand for both campaign and government work.