WASHINGTON – Former President Barack Obama criticized President Donald Trump on Friday for attempting to stall funding for the U.S. Postal Service, a move that Obama said “is unheard of.”
In a podcast with former campaign manager David Plouffe, Obama directly criticized the Trump administration for what is happening at the USPS.
“What we’ve seen in a way that is unique to modern political history is a president who is explicit in trying to discourage people from voting,” Obama said. “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 added: “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 44th president is referencing ongoing negotiations between Democrats and the White House on the latest coronavirus relief legislation on Capitol Hill.
Trump has offered conflicting statements about whether he opposes supplementary funding for the USPS, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The president has suggested that a deal isn’t going to happen and pointed a finger at Democrats for demanding $3.5 billion for mail-in voting, which he argued would perpetuate voter fraud, and for pushing for an additional $25 billion for the Postal Service.
Trump has repeatedly railed against mail-in ballots heading toward November, calling them, with scant evidence, unsafe and untrustworthy, as COVID-19 forces many Americans to stay home and vote by mail.
Additionally, Louis DeJoy, who was named postmaster general in May by the the Postal Service’s board of governors, who are appointed by the president, has been mired in controversy following sweeping changes at the agency.
DeJoy was a significant major Republican and Trump donor. Some of the changes implemented at the Postal Service include eliminating overtime, dramatically restructuring the organization and removing or reassigning nearly two dozen agency leaders. It was also reported that the USPS is removing some mail sorting machines, which would sort mail-in ballots, from its facilities around the country.
Some of these changes have caused significant mail delays in parts of the country, raising alarms that the anticipated influx of mail-in voting in November may be impacted.
Obama also said that Trump is “throwing in this additional monkey wrench trying to starve the Postal Service.”
“My question is what are Republicans doing where you are so scared of people voting that you are now willing to undermine what is part of the basic infrastructure of American life?” Obama said.