POSTAL CHIEF DENIES ‘SABOTAGING’ ELECTION
WASHINGTON — Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told lawmakers Monday that he has warned allies of President Donald Trump that the president’s repeated attacks on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots are “not helpful” but denied that recent changes at the Postal Service are linked to the November elections.
DeJoy, who has come under intense scrutiny over sweeping policy changes at the U.S. Postal Service, faced new questions on mounting problems at the agency as it prepares to deliver record numbers of ballots this fall as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
During an exchange with Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., DeJoy first denied having contacted the president’s campaign team, but later backtracked, saying he has “spoken to people that are friends of mine that are associated with the campaign” over Trump’s baseless claims that mail voting will lead to fraud.
“I have put word around to different people that this is not helpful,” DeJoy said during a six-hour House
Oversight Committee hearing.
DeJoy faced tense questions from lawmakers over mail delivery delays seen since he took the helm in midJune. It was his second appearance before Congress in four days.
“I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” DeJoy said, adding that, like Trump, he personally plans to vote by mail.
The pandemic has pushed the Postal Service into a central role in the 2020 elections, with tens of millions of people expected to vote by mail rather than in-person. At the same time, Trump has acknowledged he is withholding emergency aid from the service to make it harder to process mail-in ballots, as his election campaign legally challenges mail voting procedures in key states.
DeJoy, a former supply-chain CEO and a major donor to Trump and the GOP, set in motion a series of operational changes this summer that delayed mail across the country. DeJoy told the House panel that election mail is his “No. 1 priority.” He disputed reports that he has eliminated overtime for postal workers and said a Postal Service document outlining overtime restrictions was written by a mid-level manager. Last week, DeJoy said he was halting some of his operational changes “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”
Still, DeJoy vehemently refused to restore decommissioned mail-sorting machines and blue collection boxes, saying they are not needed.
At one point Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., fired off a round of quick, seemingly basic questions — How much does it cost to mail a postcard? How many people voted by mail in the last election? — only to find DeJoy did not know the answers.
“I’m concerned about your understanding of this agency,” she said.
Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., of the Chicago area compared the hearing to “punching Jell-O — avoid at all cost answering a question directly.”
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Monday at the House hearing.
Rep. Mike Quigley