President Donald Trump argued on Monday that he wants to ‘make the post office great again’ and expressed concerns that ballots dropped off at drop-boxes this November could lead to a ‘rigged election.’
The attack came as his postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, agreed to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday, August 24, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill have raised concerns over the delays in mail delivery. Also appearing will be Robert Duncan, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors.
Political pressure on the U.S. Postal Service has compounded in the past few weeks amid concerns voters, who are being urged to use mail-in ballots to combat the coronavirus, will not see their ballots arrive in time to be counted.
Both sides are weighing in: President Trump has presented concerns – but no evidence – of fraudulent voting and Democrats worry about voter disenfranchisement.
Additionally on Monday, Trump launched an attack on drop-off boxes as experts recommend voters concerned their ballot may not make it to state officials in time via the post office use drop boxes instead.
Many cities and states are providing drop-boxes as an alternative for voters instead of mailing in their ballots. Such boxes were used during several primaries as in-person voting was halted due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump cast doubt on the system but provided no proof of his allegation it could lead to fraudulent voting.
‘Some states use “drop boxes” for the collection of Universal Mail-In Ballots. So who is going to “collect” the Ballots, and what might be done to them prior to tabulation? A Rigged Election? So bad for our Country. Only Absentee Ballots acceptable!,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘The U.S. Post Office (System) has been failing for many decades. We simply want to MAKE THE POST OFFICE GREAT AGAIN, while at the same time saving billions of dollars a year for American Taxpayers. Dems don’t have a clue!,’ he added.
The post office has come under fire over concerns it won’t be able to handle the deluge of mail that will come through its system this fall.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back from its summer recess for a crisis session on the postal system.
And two House Democrats asked the FBI to open a criminal investigation into the role that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy played in mail delays as concerns those delays will lead to voter disenfranchisement have increased.
But President Trump defended DeJoy – a prominent Republican donor the president appointed to the position – on Monday in a rant that was mingled with attacks on Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Amazon, and its founder Jeff Bezos.
‘I’m just making it good,’ the president said of changes to the post office, which critics charge could to votes not being counted in the November election. ‘We have a very very good business guy running it and I want to make – I jokingly say it – but it’s true: I want to make the post office good again.’
Pelosi and House Democrats are returning to Washington D.C. to vote on legislation that would prohibit the U.S. Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service, as the removal of mailboxes across the country sparked fears of slowed service that could lead to voter disenfranchisement.
Lawmakers will be called back to vote on Saturday, House Democratic leaders announced on Monday, to consider legislation related to the United States Postal Service. Democrats have their party’s national political convention this week.
‘It’s a Nancy Pelosi con game with her associate Schumer. This is a con game by Pelosi and Schumer,’ Trump said of the Democrats.
‘We’re making it so it is going to be good, and we’re going to take care of our postal workers, above all, we’re not firing people but the way they ran as a for many years as a disaster,’ Trump said.
The Post Office lost $8.8 billion in fiscal year 2019, part of a series of financial losses that came from a combination of fewer people using the mail and its pension plan for its retirees.
Trump has repeatedly railed against those financial losses and argued DeJoy, a successful businessman, has put the policies in place to help its finances.
‘This isn’t a Trump thing,’ the president said. ‘This has been one of the disasters of the world the way it’s been run. It’s been run horribly, and we’re gonna make it good. Now, what am I supposed to do, let it continue to run badly?’
He also complained that some of the post office’s financial troubles are because of online commerce companies like Amazon.com. Trump argues the companies use the postal service to deliver to rural areas other places don’t deliver but don’t pay enough for the service.
‘Maybe the biggest problem with the post office is Amazon. Amazon and other companies like it. They come in. They drop all their mail into a post office, not all of it but a big percentage of it. And they say here you deliver it you stupid people; you deliver it. And it costs us every time they drop a package. It costs us like $3 to deliver the package for that – $3 a package. We’re losing a fortune. I said, you got to raise the rates, you’re gonna have to raise the rates. But Amazon they built a big plant always near a post office, and then they take a lot of this mail into areas where they could never go because the postal system is massive. And they drop packages into the post office by the thousands,’ he told ‘Fox & Friends’ in an extended rant.
He also complained that Bezos, worth $188 billion and the wealthiest American, should pay more.
‘On average we lose massive amounts of money, and I should raise the price. This guy supposed to be so wealthy. So raise the price and let him pay for it. Why is the post office, paying for delivery for Amazon, and – in all fairness – for other services like that?,’ Trump said.
Later, before he departed the White House on a trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin, Trump denied he’s asked his postmaster general to slow down mail deliveries of ballots.
‘No, not at all. I wouldn’t do that. Now I encourage everybody to speed up the mail, not slow down the mail. And I also want to have a post office that runs without losing billions and billions of dollars a year, as it has been doing for 50 years,’ he said.
President Trump has long complained about mail-in voting, falsely claiming it leads to voter fraud. Numerous studies shows it does not.
His defense comes amid a massive uproar against the postal service after it warned all 50 states that ballots may not make it officials in time to be counted in November.
The warning was combined with photos of the post office’s signature blue boxes being removed from street corners, executives being fired by DeJoy and complaints from post office workers that DeJoy’s new policies are causing massive delays in mail delivery.
Pelosi has called lawmakers back to Capitol Hill nearly a month early to deal with the matter as 80 million ballots are expected to make their way through the postal system this fall as people use mail-in voting as a way to avoid the coronavirus.
And Democratic Representatives Ted Lieu of California and Hakeem Jeffries of New York asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to open an investigation into DeJoy.
‘There is overwhelming evidence that Postmaster General DeJoy and the Board of Governors have hindered the passage of mail,’ they wrote in a letter. ‘At least 19 mail sorting machines, which can process 35,000 pieces of mail per hour, have been dismantled and over 671 are slated for reductions later this year.’
The U.S. Postal Service announced late Sunday it would stop removing the blue mail boxes until after the election due to the public outrage that sprang up around the removal.
‘Given the recent customer concerns the Postal Service will postpone removing boxes for a period of 90 days while we evaluate our customers concerns,’ USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum said in a statement.
Mailboxes have been removed across the U.S. – from Oregon to New York City, from Ohio to Indianapolis and Montana.
Over the weekend, photographs posted online showed mailboxes being removed in Brighton, Boston.
The pictures caused outrage, but the USPS said they were being taken away because they were covered in graffiti, or otherwise in need of replacement.
And White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that no more mail sorting machines would not be removed until after the election.
CNN reported last week that 671 machines used to organize letters or other pieces of mail are slated for ‘reduction’ in dozens of cities this year.
‘Sorting machines between now and Election Day will not be taken off line,’ Meadows told CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
He also said President Trump would not interfere in the election.
‘The president of the United States is not going to interfere with anybody casting their vote in a legitimate way, whether it’s the post office or anything else,’ he said.
And The Washington Post reported Sunday that attorneys general from at least six states are discussing potential lawsuits against the administration over cuts to mail service, which have become front page news around the country.
Former President Barack Obama joined the criticism. He said on Friday that Trump was ‘actively kneecaping the Postal Service’ to suppress the vote.
DeJoy has argued the changes he installed are necessary to help the Postal Service become financially stable. The service has struggled economically for years, and its financial problems have been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.
DeJoy, 63, is one of just five postmasters general to come to the post from the private sector since 1971, when the Post Office ceased to be a cabinet department and was reorganized as the Postal Service, an independent federal agency.
He has eliminated most overtime for postal workers, imposed restrictions on transportation and reduced of the quantity and use of mail-processing equipment.
On Sunday more than a hundred protesters gathered in Greensboro, North Carolina, outside DeJoy’s home.
The source of DeJoy’s wealth, New Breed Logistics, a national logistics and supply-chain services provider, is based in North Carolina.
He sold the company that year for $615 million to XPO Logistics, The New York Times reported, and founded LDJ Global Strategies, a real estate, investment and consulting company.
DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, have significant investments in companies that do business with or compete with the Postal Service, the paper said.
According to disclosures filed with the Office of Government Ethics, the couple hold between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in such investments, mostly in XPO Logistics, where DeJoy was a director until 2018.
DeJoy’s gated home is next to the Greensboro Country Club golf course. Protesters gathered on the neighborhood streets by his home for about two hours, holding signs, chanting, and listening to speakers.
Trump attended a high-dollar fundraiser in 2017 at the 15,000-square-foot home, known locally as the Castle. The residence features a tower, a gilded staircase, a swimming pool and a pool house.
Since 2016, DeJoy has donated $1.2 million to Trump’s campaign funds and nearly $1.3 million to the Republican Party.
Protesters were also outside his Washington DC residence.
About 100 people gathered in the wealthy residential neighborhood of Kalorama on Saturday, outside the apartment complex.
Videos on social media showed them banging spoons on pots, blaring horns and chanting ‘resign,’ with many in the group wearing masks and remaining socially distanced.
In letters sent in July to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Thomas J. Marshall, the general counsel for the Postal Service, told most of them that ‘certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.’
Trump said last week that he was blocking a $25 billion emergency injection sought by the Postal Service, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election money to the states.
The Republican president worries that mail-in voting could cost him reelection.
The money for the post office is intended to help with processing an expected surge of mail-in ballots. Both funding requests have been tied up in congressional negotiations over a new coronavirus relief package.