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GOP chairman accuses Democrats of 'character assassination' against postmaster general

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows return to normalcy on Capitol Hill FBI was aware Giuliani was a target of a Russian influence campaign ahead of 2020 election: report MORE (R-Wis.) on Friday accused Democrats of using a "false narrative" to carry out a "character assassination" of Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyGaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' Senate panel advances Biden's Postal Service nominees MORE.

"He has already been subjected to character assassination as Democrats have put him in the crosshairs of another hyperbolic false narrative," Johnson said, just minutes after a hearing to discuss DeJoy's moves as the postmaster general started.

DeJoy has come under fierce bipartisan criticism in recent weeks as mail delays and changes being made to the Postal Service raised concerns that the post office would not be able to handle the expected uptick in mail-in ballots expected in November due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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DeJoy has since announced that he would delay changes until after the election to avoid the appearance of trying to interfere. 

But Johnson focused his fire not on DeJoy, whom he praised for trying to reduce the Postal Service's costs, but on Democrats, whom he accused of "cynically" trying to create a "false political narrative." 

"According to Democrats, the postmaster is trying to sabotage the postal system to disenfranchise voters in the upcoming election," Johnson said. 

Johnson's remarks are a fiery start to what is likely to be a heated hearing, where DeJoy is testifying before the first of two congressional committees.

And the tensions were almost immediately on display when Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersHillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO Senators introduce bipartisan bill to protect personal travel data Hillicon Valley: Acting FTC chair urges Congress to revive agency authority after Supreme Court ruling | Senate Intel panel working on breach notification bill MORE (D-Mich.) countered Johnson in his opening statement, telling DeJoy that "the Postal Service has always delivered, and Mr. DeJoy, I don’t think you have, you have not delivered in this brief tenure so far.”