Obama: ‘Unheard of’ for Trump to try to ‘actively kneecap the Postal Service’
Former President Obama said Friday that President Trump is actively kneecapping the Postal Service, a move that is “unheard of.”
In an interview with his former campaign manager David Plouffe, Obama said the Republican Party “for quite some time has actively tried to discourage people’s votes from counting in all kinds of ways, whether it’s voter ID laws or blatant gerrymandering, [or] making it difficult for people in certain precincts to find their polling places.”
“What we’ve never seen before is a president say, ‘I’m going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to encourage voting, and I will be explicit about the reason I’m doing it,’ ” Obama said. “That’s sort of unheard of, right? And we also have not had an election in the midst of a pandemic that is still deadly and killing a lot of people and we still don’t know the long-term side effects of contracting the illness.”
The former president added that he is most concerned about states being able to monitor election officials properly setting up polling places, and making sure that every vote is counted.
“So in that circumstance, the thing I’m most worried about is … how do we protect the integrity of the election process? How do we make sure that people’s votes are counted? How do we police and monitor how state officials are setting up polling places and ensuring that every vote is counted?” he said.
For months President Trump and his allies have claimed that mail-in voting would lead to voter fraud, though there is scant evidence to suggest that is the case.
Trump said Thursday he was opposed to providing the United States Postal Service with more money in the next coronavirus relief legislation because it will facilitate mail-in voting.
“They want $25 billion for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said. “Now in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
Obama also said that funding for the post office is essential for more reasons than just mail-in voting.
“But of course this has been a question for the last three and a half years, is, what are the Republicans doing? What are the Republicans in Congress doing? The post office is not simply a delivery system for mail-in ballots,” Obama said. “The post office sends out critical benefits: Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits, disability benefits. The post office helps veterans get prescription drugs filled.”
After the interview, Obama sent a follow up tweet underscoring his point.
Everyone depends on the USPS. Seniors for their Social Security, veterans for their prescriptions, small businesses trying to keep their doors open. They can’t be collateral damage for an administration more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 14, 2020
The former president’s comment come as the Postal Service has come to the forefront of political debate. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy recently announced personnel changes to the Postal Service including removing two top officials at the agency in charge of day-to-day operations. A organizational chart also showed that 23 postal officials were reassigned and five staffers left their positions for new roles in leadership.
Democrats worry that the changes will hamper mail-in voting come November.
Updated 12:37 p.m.