After enacting sweeping changes that experts said risked severely disrupting U.S. Postal Service (USPS) functions, President Donald Trump on Thursday appeared to confirm that his efforts were in fact part of a larger plan to sabotage mail-in voting for the 2020 election. The admission that the president was taking explicit measures to frustrate voting access ahead of an election didn’t surprise legal observers.
In a morning interview with Fox Business, the president said he was intentionally withholding funding from USPS to prevent states from implementing workable mail-in voting systems despite the resurgent nationwide pandemic.
“They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes – the universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion for the post office,” Trump said of states expanding access to voting by mail. “They need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. 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.”
Georgetown University Law Center professor and constitutional scholar Marty Lederman said Trump’s politicization of USPS had been portended by the administration’s previous track record of eliminating institutional norms — and instead placed blame on congressional Republicans.
“Well, of course he did. That’s hardly surprising. (He’s trying to use the military, DOJ, his appointment, removal and pardon powers, the census, his reapportionment count, etc., for similar partisan ends),” Lederman wrote. “The real story, though, is that virtually every single GOP Senator simply sits back and quietly revels in the corruption of the levers of government power, b/c it redounds to their benefit. The degradation of the GOP, and of the Senate–the enablers–is the big story, and it’s why 6-10 Senate races are so important on 11/03.”
Lederman’s sentiments were echoed by former head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta.
“Trump openly touting his agenda to defund the post office to prevent people from voting amid a pandemic. Even at expense of veterans getting their medicine by mail and all of the other grave harms. How many Republicans senators will confront him on this?” she wrote. “Silence is complicity.”
Dale Ho, president of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, simply said the Trump remarks showed he was “terrified of people voting,” a notion supported by the president’s own words.
Walter Shaub, the former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and a daily Trump critic, used the opportunity to provide a metaphorical “friendly reminder” about the difference between robbers and burglars (the latter steals property by force, or threat of force).
“Here’s a friendly reminder that a robber’s not better than a burglar. Sure, the burglar’s a sneak creeping in the dark while you’re out. And a robber’s the honest chap telling you it’s your money or your life. But there are no points for honesty on the losing end of a gun barrel,” he wrote.
Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, said this was “voter suppression, plain and simple.”
“You don’t even have to read between the lines. He’s saying it openly,” former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Elie Honig commented.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, has already alleged that Trump’s remarks revealed a “continuing conspiracy to steal the election.”
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]
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