President Trump speaks during a press conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Aug. 15.
Photographer: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump said he backs actions being taken by his postmaster general, and that money will not be designated for universal voting by mail, as a nationwide uproar continues around cuts to the U.S. Postal Service and their potential impact on the election.
During a news conference on Saturday at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, Trump said repeatedly that absentee voting was good while vote-by-mail was “very bad” and subject to fraud.
“Universal mail-in voting is going to be catastrophic, it’s going to make our country a laughing stock all over the world,” Trump said, adding without evidence that it could take “months” to know the result of November’s elections.
Many experts say voting by mail and voting by absentee ballot are essentially indistinguishable.
He blamed Democrats for not approving “proper funding,” although Democrats have demanded large amounts of funding for the Postal Service, including to helping ensure the vote in November.
Asked about reports that postal sorting machines are being removed in various locations, and how this squares with his contention that he wants the mail to be processed efficiently, Trump said he doesn’t know what Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is doing.
“Well, you’ll have to ask him,” Trump said. “I know this: he’s a very efficient operator, a very good operator.”
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Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Barack Obama, have slammed Trump and DeJoy for engineering the mail slowdowns. Obama said Friday that Trump is trying to “actively kneecap” the USPS.
Even singer Taylor Swift jumped on the bandwagon, telling her 87 million Twitter followers — many of whom are young U.S. voters — on Saturday that Trump is doing a “calculated dismantling” of the postal service.
Trump’s calculated dismantling of USPS proves one thing clearly: He is WELL AWARE that we do not want him as our president. He’s chosen to blatantly cheat and put millions of Americans’ lives at risk in an effort to hold on to power.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) August 15, 2020
The U.S. Postal Service has sent warnings to 46 states that it may not be able to deliver their ballots on time for the November election.
The Postal Service’s inspector general said Friday she’s opened an investigation into complaints by Democrats about cuts to mail services that have slowed delivery of mail and may imperil vote-by-mail operations. Democrats have also raised the alarm about delays to mail-order prescription drugs for seniors, military veterans, and others.
The vast majority of states are set to allow mail-in voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic, even as Trump condemns the practice almost daily, saying it’s rife with fraud, though there’s no evidence that is the case. Trump and his wife have requested mail-in ballots for Florida’s primary election, which is Tuesday, CNN reported.
With the Postal Service reeling, Obama on Twitter urged people to vote early in states where that’s an option. Voting in some states opens in mid-September.
If you’re in a state where you have the option to vote early, do that now. The more votes in early, the less likely you’re going to see a last minute crunch, both at polling places and in states where mail-in ballots are permitted. Then tell everyone you know.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 14, 2020
On Thursday, Trump said that not approving a financial lifeline for the postal service sought by Democrats would mean that “you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
Congressional Democrats on Friday asked DeJoy, a large donor to Trump and other Republicans, to provide more information on cutbacks he ordered at the Postal Service last month. In a letter, they said the service seemed to be reversing a longstanding policy of prioritizing election-related mail.
“The Postal Service should not make changes that slow down the mail or in any way compromise service for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail — including significant numbers of people who will be relying on the Postal Service to exercise their right to vote,” wrote Pelosi and five other top Democrats.
Representative Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, asked his state’s attorney general to launch a grand jury investigation to consider criminal indictments against Trump and DeJoy for “the subversion of New Jersey state elections.”
On Friday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he would order the November general election to be conducted mostly through the mail in a state that was one of the early U.S. coronavirus hot spots.
Making its warning to the 46 states, the Postal Service said voters and election officials should allow at least seven days for a ballot to go through the mail.
By that standard, more than 20 states would not leave enough time for even a one-way mailing, according to state laws compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Because many states require a voter to first request an absentee ballot by mail, the back-and-forth mailings could take 15 days or more, depending on the class of mail.
The Postal Service changes and the Trump administration’s decision to withhold funding “is alarming and should be of grave concern to us all, particularly with the general election only months away,” Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement on Saturday. Fischer, a Democrat, is president of the nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Protesters on Saturday marched to DeJoy’s apartment building in Washington to decry the postmaster general’s cuts. Some stuffed fake absentee ballots into the lobby door, WUSA9, the local CBS affiliate, reported.
(Updates with Trump comments from third paragraph.)
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