POSTAL CHIEF DE­NIES ‘SAB­O­TAG­ING’ ELEC­TION

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD - BY MATTHEW DALY AND AN­THONY IZA­GUIRRE

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.”

TOM WIL­LIAMS/POOL VIA AP

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., ques­tions Post­mas­ter Gen­eral Louis DeJoy on Mon­day at the House hear­ing.

Rep. Mike Quigley

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