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Trump wanted to use the COVID-19 pandemic to call off the 2020 election, Wolff book says

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Donald Trump begins to remove a light-blue reusable face mask.
Former President Donald Trump. Alex Brandon/AP Photo
  • Trump considered calling off the 2020 election over the COVID-19 pandemic, a new book says.

  • Michael Wolff's book says Trump raised this idea twice in July last year.

  • Around then, Trump tweeted about delaying the election over baseless concerns about mail-in voting.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Donald Trump suggested using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse not to hold the 2020 election, according to a new book.

An excerpt from Michael Wolff's book "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency" published in The Times of London on Tuesday said that Trump raised the prospect twice over the summer.

The excerpt said that in July 2020, Trump had been mulling ways of managing the pandemic without angering his largely anti-mask, anti-lockdown political base.

Then, Wolff wrote, Trump brought up another idea: delaying the election over the pandemic. He later spoke of "calling it off," the book said.

"People can't get to the polls. It's a national emergency. Right?" Trump was quoted as saying.

Mark Meadows, then the White House chief of staff, stepped up to say that that was not a constitutional possibility, Wolff wrote.

But Trump seemed unconvinced. "I'm sure there might be a way, but ... well ..." he said, according to Wolff.

Trump again raised the idea a few days later at a debate-preparation session in Bedminster, New Jersey, with Chris Christie, according to Wolff.

"I'm thinking about calling it off," Trump told Christie, the book says.

"The prep?" Christie reportedly said.

"No, the election - too much virus," Trump was said to have replied. According to Wolff, Christie then told him, "You can't do that, man," adding: "You do know, you can't declare martial law. You do know that, right?"

The idea of postponing the election was definitely on Trump's mind around this time.

On July 30, Trump caused outrage by suggesting in a tweet that the election might have to be delayed because of his bogus concerns about mail-in voting.

"It will be a great embarrassment to the USA," he wrote. "Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"

As Insider's Grace Panetta reported, the president does not have that power.

Liz Harrington, a representative for Trump, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on the excerpt, but she tweeted on Tuesday that "all these stories from the Michael Wolff book are not true."

Wolff has previously been accused of making errors and exaggerations in his work on Trump; several reporters had noted discrepancies in his 2018 book, "Fire and Fury," according to CNBC.

In response, Wolff told CNBC he "certainly and absolutely" stood by his work.

In a tweet defending his latest book, Wolff said that he included only episodes that Trump's staff had confirmed or that came from several other sources.

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