Justin Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s reelection campaign, was caught discussing 2020 voter suppression efforts while at a Wisconsin chapter meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Association, according to the AP, though Clark denies it and says he was discussing “false accusations” that the GOP engages in voter suppression.
Clark can be heard on tape at the event saying, “Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places. Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are. … Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”
Clark continued, “We’ve all seen the tweets about voter fraud, blah, blah, blah. Every time we’re in with [Trump], he asks what are we doing about voter fraud? What are we doing about voter fraud?’ The point is he’s committed to this, he believes in it and he will do whatever it takes to make sure it’s successful.”
The 2020 election will be markedly different from 2016 in one key way: the Republican National Committee is allowed, for the first time since 1982, to engage in poll monitoring. The RNC had lost their ability to do so through a consent decree stemming from a lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee claiming the RNC had intimidated black voters in the New Jersey governor’s election. That consent decree has since been lifted. So while in 2016, the Trump campaign had to organize their own poll monitoring, now that the consent decree no longer exists, the RNC can use its multi-million dollar coffers to conduct poll monitoring nationwide.
But when asked by the AP about his remarks, Clark denied he was talking about what Trump plans to do and was instead talking about how Republicans have been “falsely accused” of voter suppression. “As should be clear from the context of my remarks, my point was that Republicans historically have been falsely accused of voter suppression and that it is time we stood up to defend our own voters,” Clark said. “Neither I nor anyone I know or work with would condone anyone’s vote being threatened or diluted and our efforts will be focused on preventing just that.”