President Trump on Saturday expressed support for actions taken by his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who has come under growing scrutiny over recent changes he has made at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) ahead of the presidential election.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, Trump denied that his administration was seeking to create delays in mail ahead of the November election and attempted to shift blame to Democrats for a lack of funding for the Postal Service.
“He is a fantastic man. He wants to make the Post Office great again,” the president said of DeJoy, a major Republican donor who Trump tapped to lead the Post Office in May.
“I don’t know what he’s doing, I can only tell you he is a very smart man,” Trump said when specifically asked about reports that DeJoy ordered that some mail-sorting machines be decommissioned. Trump later during the press conference described DeJoy as an “efficient operator.”
DeJoy has come under fire for significant changes he has made to the Postal Service since assuming the position in June that have created widespread delays in mail. DeJoy has said the changes are meant to cut costs for an agency burdened by financial troubles amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Post reported Friday that a top USPS official sent letters to 46 states and Washington, D.C., warning that it could not guarantee all ballots cast via mail for the upcoming election would arrive in time to be counted even if they followed state guidelines for mail-in voting.
Trump has railed against mail-in voting for several months, leveling claims that increased mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic would result in widespread fraud – assertions that experts say are baseless.
The president on Saturday repeated those claims, saying widespread mail-in voting would be “catastrophic” and suggesting that the true result of the election could not be known “for months or for years” after the November election. Some critics argue the president’s attacks on mail-in voting are an effort to cast doubt on the results of the election ahead of the November vote.
Trump said Saturday that the Postal Service would need more funding in order to handle the increase capacity of mail-in ballots before the election, but he faulted Democrats for not making concessions in negotiations on the next coronavirus relief package.
“If you’re going to do these millions of ballots out of nowhere, [DeJoy is] going to obviously need funding but the Democrats are not willing to provide funding for other things and therefore they are not going to get the funding for that,” Trump said. “You are going to have a catastrophic situation with universal mail-in votes.”
The president suggested in a Fox Business interview Thursday that he was opposed to additional USPS funding because it would help implement universal mail-in voting this fall, before shifting hours later and saying he would approve funding if Democrats made other concessions sought by the White House.
Trump on Saturday continued to oppose Democrats’ demands for billions in aid to state and local governments as part of the next relief package, calling it a “bailout” for Democrat-led states and cities.
Democrats have advocated for $25 billion in USPS funding as part of the next relief package, in addition to $3.5 billion in supplemental assistance to be used for election resources amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Many states have moved to expand mail-in voting in order to allow individuals to vote during the election without physically going to the polls.
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