Democrats are not letting Trump’s attacks on the USPS go without a fight.
It took just a few days for Democratic leaders in Arizona and Congress to start investigating changes at the United States Postal Service (USPS) that could slow down mail delivery and suppress millions of votes in the upcoming election.
Many states are encouraging mail-in or absentee ballots for the presidential election as a safer alternative than voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic.
But that system relies heavily on the nation’s postal service, which President Donald Trump has attacked, without evidence, for weeks. On top of this, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor, has made operational changes that have, perhaps purposefully, slowed down mail delivery ahead of the election.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs last week called for a criminal investigation into DeJoy’s changes, noting it’s against state law to “delay the delivery of a ballot.”
State attorneys general are also considering legal action. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s staff told CBS News that they have spoken with several other state offices about potential legal action.
“My colleagues and I are working as we speak to determine what Trump and DeJoy are doing, whether they have already violated or are likely to violate any laws, and what tools we have at our disposal to put a stop to President Trump’s ongoing attack on our postal service and our democracy,” Herring said in a statement to CBS News.
However, Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich pushed back against Hobbs’ request and said he’s opposed to an investigation.
“The allegations in the Secretary’s letter are purely speculative, and the letter contains no information or evidence establishing that the delivery of any Arizona ballot has been illegally delayed,” he tweeted Thursday.
After Hobbs’ and others’ backlash, the postmaster general announced Tuesday he would suspend any more changes until after the election to avoid accusations of influencing the election. However, he said he doesn’t plan to restore anything that has already been changed., including mail-sorting machines and other infrastructure that has been removed.
Hobbs said she was happy to see DeJoy reverse course but she would “continue to be vigilant” to make sure Arizonans remain feeling comfortable voting by mail.
Others Chime In
After protests this weekend at DeJoy’s houses in Washington, D.C., and North Carolina, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the House to return in the middle of August recess to vote on a bill that would stop USPS from making any changes until after the election. Democrats could vote on the bill as early as Aug. 22.
“Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, one of the top Trump mega-donors, has proven a complicit crony as he continues to push forward sweeping new operational changes that degrade postal service, delay the mail, and – according to the Postal Service itself – threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming elections in a timely fashion,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to her colleagues.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is also building a plan to fight back against the attacks on the post office. In an interview with the Washington Post, election lawyer and Biden campaign senior adviser Robert Bauer said Trump’s goal is two-fold: keep ballots from arriving in time to be counted and dissuade people from voting at all with constant attacks and misinformation on the process. To fight this, the campaign says it plans “massive expenditures” to educate voters on mail-in ballots and the importance of voting early.
Hearings, Lawsuits, and More
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) also sent a letter to USPS officials this weekend, demanding that DeJoy and Robert Duncan, the chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, appear at House Oversight committee hearing as early as next week. The hearing was originally scheduled for September.
Rep. Greg Stanton, a Democrat from Arizona, was one of the lawmakers who signed the letter. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) also supports the hearings, her office told The Copper Courier.
RELATED: Late Medicine and Food Gone Bad as Trump’s USPS Delays Hurt Wisconsin Families and Shops
Some members of Congress went further, pointing to potential criminal behavior from DeJoy and the Board of Governors. Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, urging them to look into whether DeJoy and the Board of Governors committed any crimes related to delays within the Postal Service.
“Multiple media investigations show that Postmaster DeJoy and the Board of Governors have retarded the passage of mail. If their intent in doing so was to affect mail-in balloting or was motivated by personal financial reasons, then they likely committed crimes,” Lieu and Jeffries wrote in their letter.
Democrat Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona called for DeJoy to be removed from his position, calling him a “Trump political crony.”
Mark Kelly, the Democrat vying for Republican Sen. Martha McSally’s seat this fall, chimed in as well.
McSally released a statement Monday saying she also wants to make sure the USPS has the resources it needs, but didn’t criticize any of the recent changes.
“The Senator has every intention of ensuring the Postal Service has the resources to be fully operational and individuals continue to get their mail—including important things like prescriptions and absentee ballots—in a timely manner,” her office wrote.
McSally has received $8,100 in donations from DeJoy according to the Federal Elections Commission.
Several individuals, including candidates for public office, sued Trump, DeJoy and the USPS in New York on Monday to ensure adequate funding for postal operations.
The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court as multiple lawsuits were threatened across the country as a response to comments the president recently made and actions taken by DeJoy to change operations at post offices nationwide.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.