Political Interference at the U.S. Postal Service

For years, President Donald Trump’s attacks on the U.S. Postal Service were a product of his problematic insistence on viewing the agency as a business rather than an essential public service. But as the coronavirus pandemic forces more Americans to rely on absentee voting to participate in our democracy, those attacks represent a danger not just to low-cost mail delivery, but to voting rights as well.
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In 2018, the president’s public criticism of the U.S. Postal Service raised serious concerns about potential attempts by the Trump administration to privatize the centuries-old agency and sell off a critical piece of the nation’s infrastructure. And the threat of political and industry interference in the operations of the post office has only increased as the nation battles a deadly pandemic that has forced many Americans to rely more than ever on USPS, whether for delivery of medication to the timely return of absentee ballots.

In the spring of 2020, Trump threatened to veto a coronavirus relief bill if it contained money for the financially struggling USPS and directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to withhold the $10 billion loan approved by Congress, leading to months of protracted negotiations over the terms of the loan. Meanwhile, as primary elections took place across the country, Trump and his allies began making alarmist and unfounded claims about the dangers of voter fraud from increased use of absentee voting.

The appointment of a new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, brought about a number of worrying changes. Before taking on the role, DeJoy was a major Trump donor who was the head of the warehouse and distribution company New Breed Logistics, a firm with a troubling history of anti-union practices and workplace violations. Under DeJoy, USPS began slashing post office hours at locations across the country. The new postmaster also announced plans to eliminate overtime for workers, and directed them to leave mail at distribution centers if it would delay letter carriers getting to their routes.

By mid-summer, Americans already had started noticing significant delays in the delivery of their mail. With the 2020 election just months away — and along with it an expected huge increase in voting by mail — voting-rights advocates have raised the alarm about whether all voters would be able to safely cast their ballots. American Oversight is investigating how the pandemic has impacted USPS, and whether and to what extent the White House is interfering in the agency’s operations or undermining trust in absentee voting — either on behalf of private industry or to benefit the president’s reelection chances.

Updates

Investigations Update: Trump’s Election-Stealing Efforts in Georgia, DeJoy’s Communications, and Giroir’s Covid-19 Text Messages

January 5, 2021
See the latest in our investigations into voter suppression in Georgia, the president’s efforts to overturn election results, and the postmaster general’s communications.

The U.S. Postal Service Finally Released Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s Calendars — Almost Completely Redacted

December 16, 2020
USPS first tried to withhold the calendars, then turned them over after American Oversight sued. But the agency has redacted nearly all details.

Investigations Update: The White House Outbreak, the Administration’s Naturalization Policy, and Texas’ Ballot Drop Boxes

October 6, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the administration’s immigration policy, absentee voting requirements, and voter suppression in the states.

News Roundup: White Nationalism, Voter Suppression, and Trump’s Taxes

October 1, 2020
We’ve known about the administration’s cozy relationship with white nationalists, and that fear-mongering over “voter fraud” was a deterrent to voting. But this week’s news still drove those points home.

Investigations Update: Coronavirus Safety Measures, USAGM Lobbying, and Voting by Mail Alarmism

September 29, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the White House’s control of Covid-19 information, influence and access at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, and Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

Investigations Update: New Kentucky Voter Fraud Task Force Lawsuit, and Our Supreme Court Short List Investigation

September 23, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into Trump’s potential Supreme Court nominees, the CDC’s removal of updated Covid-19 guidelines, and foreign interference in U.S. elections.

American Oversight Sues USPS for Postmaster General DeJoy’s Emails and Directives

September 21, 2020
The lawsuit is the latest in our investigation into whether and to what extent political interference at the post office has undermined trust in absentee voting.

News Roundup: Behind the Scenes at the Postal Service

September 17, 2020
The question of what has been going on at the U.S. Postal Service has been a subject of increasing concern as the election draws nearer and as Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s leadership remains mired in controversy.

Post Office Records Reveal Emails About Treasury Takeover, Thwarted Mask Delivery Plan

September 17, 2020
American Oversight obtained nearly 10,000 pages of records with new details about the U.S. Postal Service’s struggles during the early months of the pandemic.

Documents Show DeJoy Hired Staff with Ties to His Businesses

September 17, 2020
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy brought in staff connected to his business ventures when he took over the United States Postal Service this summer, according to resumes and employment records obtained by American Oversight.

Investigations Update: DeJoy’s Calendars, Barr’s False Voting Fraud Story, and Delays in Prescription Deliveries

September 15, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the postmaster general’s calendars, the administration’s alarmist claims about voter fraud, and the decision to put a Trump-signed letter in food aid boxes.

American Oversight Sues USPS for Postmaster General DeJoy’s Calendars

September 15, 2020
The public is entitled to see how DeJoy is spending his time and who has been influencing his decisions.

News Roundup: What Trump Knew, and What We Know

September 10, 2020
We’ve known for months that President Donald Trump has been downplaying the severity of the coronavirus. In the spring, we knew that Covid-19 wasn’t just like the seasonal flu, despite Trump’s reassurances that it was. And we’ve known that the pandemic won’t just “disappear,” no matter how many times the president insists it will.

Investigations Update: Operation Legend, Crossfire Hurricane, and the Rush for a Coronavirus Vaccine

September 1, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the Trump administration’s politicized Operation Legend, the rush for school reopenings and a Covid-19 vaccine, and partisan FBI responses to congressional requests.

News Roundup: The Rules That (Don’t) Apply

August 27, 2020
There are the rules followed by President Trump and those closest to him, and then there are the rules that apply to everyone else.

Investigations Update: Attorney General Barr’s Conduct, Airline Industry Influence, and Trump’s Suggestion to Postpone the Election

August 25, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into William Barr’s politicization of the Justice Department and industry’s influence over pandemic relief fund allocation.

News Roundup: The Grift Economy

August 21, 2020
Steve Bannon and associates were arrested this week for their alleged involvement in a scheme that perfectly exemplifies the self-dealing that permeates the Trump administration.

Investigations Update: Postal Service Sabotage, Covid-19 Operation Warp Speed, and Portland Protest Deployment Costs

August 18, 2020
See the latest in our investigations of the Trump administration's attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, the struggling federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the taxpayer resources used to deploy federal agents to suppress racial justice protests in Portland.

News Roundup: A White House At War with the People

August 13, 2020
Documents show the Secret Service requested a helicopter and surveillance drone support in early June to help secure the White House amid protests against police brutality.

News Roundup: The Levers of Power

August 6, 2020
Americans may have long taken for granted the reliability of the national mail service and the accuracy of the decennial census. But it seems the Trump administration is doing its best to make sure we won’t do so again.

News Roundup: Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor … Trump’s Political Interference

July 30, 2020
Trump’s antagonistic stance toward the Postal Service not only endangers the delivery of mail; it also threatens to undermine confidence in the election.

News Roundup: The Administration’s Failure to Confront Two National Crises

June 19, 2020
The Trump administration's responses to the deadly coronavirus pandemic and to nationwide protests against systemic racism in law enforcement have been both harmful and insufficient.

News Roundup: Georgia’s Disastrous Election, the Administration’s Alarming Protest Response, and Barr’s Troubling Tenure

June 12, 2020
As stirring protests against police brutality gripped the nation’s attention and as the coronavirus continued its tragic spread through multiple states, Georgia held a chaotic primary election.

American Oversight Files Lawsuit for Records of Political Interference at USPS Related to Covid-19 and Vote by Mail

June 11, 2020
American Oversight sued the Trump administration for failing to release documents with the potential to shed light on political interference at the U.S. Postal Service and with plans for vote by mail. 
Show all updates

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