As Democrats allege USPS 'sabotage,' a conspiracy theory in the making

The head of the United States Postal Service promised that election mail will not be slowed down, despite President Donald Trump's repeated claims against mail-in voting. CNN's Jessica Dean reports Democrats are demanding an investigation into the postal service given Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's ties to the President.

Posted: Aug 9, 2020 9:51 AM
Updated: Aug 9, 2020 9:51 AM

Democrats are accusing the Trump administration of sabotaging the nation's mail system as voters gear up to cast mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.

There had already been calls for an internal investigation of cost-cutting measures that have led to slower mail delivery and suggestions that the effort by Louis DeJoy, the new postmaster general who is a donor to President Donald Trump and Republicans, is harming the agency.

It comes as Trump has repeatedly alleged, without proof, that mail-in voting efforts are ripe for fraud and will cost him the White House when voters cast ballots.

On Friday, DeJoy announced a hiring freeze for leadership positions and a massive reorganization of top Postal Service leaders.

Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, the congressional Democrat who chairs the committee overseeing the postal service, called the moves "sabotage."

"Postmaster General DeJoy is calling this a 'modified organizational structure.' It's really a Trojan Horse," said Connolly on Twitter, sharing a Washington Post report about the changes. "Deliberate sabotage to disrupt mail service on the eve of the election — an election that hinges on mail-in ballots."

This is the latest example of Trump's paranoia about the political system infecting Americans' faith in institutions. His constant effort to undermine belief in mail-in voting is dovetailing with his political ally's convenient effort to reform the Postal Service. Add in his Treasury secretary's effort to exert more control over the postal service. This is the stuff conspiracy theories are made of.

Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, who chairs the Government Oversight Committee, called for the changes to be halted.

"The drastic changes to the Postal Service by an overtly partisan Postmaster General are another example of the President's attempts to prevent millions of Americans from having their votes counted," she said in a Saturday statement.

DeJoy said Friday at a meeting of the Postal Service Board of Governors that there would be no slowdown of mail related to the election.

"We will do everything we can to deliver election mail in a timely manner consistent with our operational standards," he said, adding, "Despite any assertions to the contrary, we are not slowing down election mail or any other mail. Instead we continue to employ a robust and proven process to ensure proper handling of all election mail."

Trump has questioned whether the mail system could handle mail-in voting caused by the pandemic and threatened to sue efforts to expand mail-in voting in places like Nevada, which he said are "using Covid to steal the state."

After the President made that claim, the Postal Service pledged Monday that it has "ample capacity" to handle what's expected to be a crush of mail-in ballots between September and November.

Democrats, meanwhile, are becoming increasingly vocal in their criticisms of DeJoy and have asked the inspector general for the Postal Service to conduct an investigation.

They cited news reports in particular that neighborhoods in Philadelphia were experiencing major slowdowns in mail delivery after cuts in overtime and hours for postal workers and said delays would "pose a threat to the November election."

Democratic leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had what Schumer described as a "heated discussion" with DeJoy about the cuts.

"We are demanding that the regulations they put in place, which cut employment and cut overtime, be rescinded. Particularly because of Covid and because of the elections, we need those to vote and we will advocate strongly for money so that they can hire all the people necessary -- both overtime and new people -- to make sure that every single ballot is counted, he said.

The postal service needs money

The importance of mail as an essential service is evident as the presidential election looms. But its financial problems are also coming to a head as businesses have cut down on the amount of mail they send during the pandemic.

The Postal Service has asked for $75 billion in emergency funding under its previous director, who suggested it could be broke by September.

Democrats wanted to include a one-time $25 billion check for the postal service in the CARES Act, but the Trump administration blocked the money. Instead, the Postal Service got a $10 billion loan for operating expenses through the massive pandemic stimulus bill enacted during the spring, but it had to agree to terms with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the summer.

Now, Democrats have pushed to include $25 billion in a new stimulus bill. It's become a sticking point in stalled negotiations for that bill, which would also extend expanded unemployment benefits and include a new direct payment to people affected by the pandemic.

The Postal Service is an independent organization, but in order to access the loan, it agreed to giving information about its operations to the Trump administration, including handing over previously confidential agreements it entered into with delivery giants like Amazon.

Trump has demanded the Postal Service raise delivery fees on companies like Amazon, which was founded by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

After the loan, Connolly and Maloney said the pandemic was being leveraged to give the administration more control.

"Secretary Mnuchin and the leadership of the U.S. Postal Service appear to be exploiting this public health pandemic to hold the Postal Service to unreasonable loan terms without even consulting Congress," they said in a statement in late July.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 755401

Reported Deaths: 8531
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1513291905
Ramsey62614972
Dakota56158520
Anoka53010513
Washington33145327
Stearns27922252
St. Louis23178352
Scott21316159
Wright20879170
Olmsted17821118
Sherburne15232111
Carver1336954
Clay1006598
Rice9855131
Blue Earth949559
Crow Wing9254105
Kandiyohi819195
Chisago816662
Otter Tail7807104
Benton7363108
Beltrami633276
Mower631740
Douglas616189
Goodhue603683
Winona603653
Itasca596978
McLeod580868
Steele572425
Isanti558172
Morrison541565
Becker518762
Polk502577
Freeborn480842
Nobles477052
Lyon444456
Carlton438666
Nicollet423051
Pine419930
Cass413142
Mille Lacs403565
Brown398846
Todd389336
Le Sueur378331
Meeker350452
Waseca322629
Martin316534
Wabasha28495
Hubbard283644
Dodge26819
Roseau258924
Fillmore236312
Redwood234143
Wadena230229
Houston229017
Renville224249
Faribault214630
Pennington213227
Sibley204512
Cottonwood193027
Kanabec187130
Chippewa185839
Aitkin178442
Watonwan168711
Pope15328
Rock153219
Yellow Medicine151120
Jackson144114
Koochiching137219
Clearwater133318
Swift132619
Pipestone131627
Marshall131419
Murray131310
Stevens122311
Lake106221
Wilkin100214
Lac qui Parle95024
Mahnomen86312
Norman8459
Big Stone7874
Grant7669
Lincoln7525
Kittson59522
Red Lake5769
Unassigned528124
Traverse5005
Lake of the Woods4524
Cook2420

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 467281

Reported Deaths: 6685
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk73698716
Linn28680379
Scott24441271
Black Hawk20130355
Woodbury18854242
Johnson17800100
Dubuque15577228
Pottawattamie14073197
Dallas13894107
Story1275148
Warren763496
Webster6876111
Cerro Gordo6816107
Clinton6814100
Des Moines657893
Marshall635484
Muscatine6294113
Wapello5807136
Jasper571478
Lee560787
Sioux560276
Marion499791
Buena Vista489745
Plymouth459187
Henry378647
Jones365160
Washington362255
Bremer353867
Benton352056
Boone344837
Carroll341753
Crawford337345
Mahaska313656
Dickinson297651
Clay274631
Buchanan274239
Jackson270445
Kossuth269373
Hardin266448
Tama261476
Fayette253848
Delaware253444
Cedar246326
Page244827
Wright240945
Winneshiek230837
Hamilton228553
Floyd216744
Harrison215277
Madison214325
Clayton210058
Poweshiek206840
Iowa204229
Butler203237
Jefferson197340
Mills197227
Allamakee192952
Cherokee191943
Lyon190641
Cass190557
Winnebago185432
Hancock184739
Calhoun184115
Appanoose175950
Shelby174239
Louisa169651
Grundy167937
Emmet163842
Franklin163328
Humboldt161826
Mitchell161843
Union159437
Chickasaw156418
Sac156323
Guthrie154034
Palo Alto140831
Clarke140028
Montgomery138941
Keokuk137534
Monroe131534
Howard125422
Ida116641
Davis113825
Greene113712
Lucas112224
Pocahontas109323
Monona107436
Worth10678
Adair103634
Osceola91117
Fremont83711
Van Buren82721
Decatur81212
Taylor78612
Wayne72024
Ringgold66827
Audubon64514
Adams4984
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