President Donald Trump said the quiet part out loud, admitting he’s intentionally withholding money from the U.S. Postal Service to undermine its ability to handle mail-in voting in the 2020 election.
“They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said on Fox Business Thursday morning of the states that are implementing universal mail-in voting ahead of the November election. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
The comments make clear why Trump and congressional Republicans have steadfastly refused to grant the Post Office money in the latest round of negotiations over coronavirus stimulus. Trump has long attacked mail voting as fraud-prone even though there’s little evidence that’s true — and he sees slowdowns at the Post Office as a way to screw up mail voting.
Widespread delays in ballot delivery could disenfranchise millions of people, lead to widespread chaos, and potentially swing a close election. Polls show that Democrats are increasingly likely to use mail voting as a safe way to cast a ballot during the pandemic, while Trump’s attacks on mail voting have pushed Republicans away from a method they’ve often used in the past.
Since Trump-donor Louis DeJoy took over the running of the Post Office in June, the mail has been slowed down considerably in at least 19 states, an alarming sign heading into the election. DeJoy’s new operational changes have included overhauling the service’s senior leadership and directing carriers to leave on time — even if the mail hasn’t been loaded —immediately in the morning, resulting in them only delivering packages and letters sorted the prior night, according to Reuters.
Trump’s comments to Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo echo statements he made at a Wednesday press conference at the White House.
“They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting,” Trump said of the Post Office, which is requesting billions in emergency funding. “So, therefore, they can’t do it, I guess. Are they going to do it even if they don’t have the money?”
Trump also said using mail-in voting would cause “one of the greatest frauds in history.”
In a statement ripping into Trump’s Fox Business comments, Joe Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said: “The President of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years,” Bates said.
The delays and the administration’s posture toward mail-in voting have drawn fierce criticism from Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The two sent a joint letter last month to DeJoy demanding a reversal of the recent changes at the USPS, saying the changes “threaten the timely delivery of mail—including medicines for seniors, paychecks for workers, and absentee ballots for voters—that is essential to millions of Americans.”
And this week, House and Senate Democrats sent separate letters to DeJoy laying the blame for the recent mail delays at his feet.
“The House is seriously concerned that you are implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing Post Offices to no longer treat all election mail as First Class,” Pelosi and 174 other House Democrats wrote. “If implemented now, as the election approaches, this policy will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters and put significant financial pressure on election jurisdictions.”
In the Senate letter, Schumer and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Tom Carper, and Gary Peters asked DeJoy to commit “to prioritize the delivery of all election mail,” and ripped into his leadership. “Instead of taking steps to increase your agency’s ability to deliver for the American people, you are implementing policy changes that make matters worse, and the Postal Service is reportedly considering changes that would increase costs for states at a time when millions of Americans are relying on voting by mail to exercise their right to vote,” the Senate Democrats wrote.
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)