In a new interview, former President Barack Obama slammed President Trump and Republicans on recent issues with the U.S. Postal Service, saying Mr. Trump is trying to “kneecap” the post office to boost his reelection chances.
Mr. Obama said it’s “unique” to see a president actively discouraging people from voting.
“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,’” Mr. Obama said. “That’s sort of unheard of.”
Mr. Obama was speaking to his former campaign adviser David Plouffe in an episode of Mr. Plouffe’s “Campaign HQ” podcast released Friday.
The former president said if people have the option to vote early, they should do so as soon as they can, adding that the postal service is a vital government service through which many taxpayers receive their Social Security checks or veterans and disability benefits.
“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?” he said. “It’d be the equivalent of, we’re not going to repair highways because people might drive to the polling places.”
U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy last week announced a major organizational overhaul to the postal service. Democrats have raised questions about new reports of delayed or undelivered mail given the expansion of vote-by-mail efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. DeJoy has said that USPS still has “ample capacity” to deliver election-related mail securely and on time.
Mr. Trump this week said congressional Democrats aren’t going to get the $25 billion they’ve been seeking for the post office or $3.5 billion they want to fund vote-by-mail if they don’t agree to a broader coronavirus relief package.
“If the bill isn’t going to get done, that would mean the post office isn’t going to get funded and that would also mean that the $3.5 billion isn’t going to be taken care of, so I don’t know how you could possibly use these ballots, these mail-in ballots,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday.
Mr. Trump said he doesn’t plan to direct Mr. DeJoy to reverse the recent policy changes in order to prevent delays.
“No, I wouldn’t do that at all. No, I want the post office to run properly,” he said.
The president says new state policies where voters are automatically sent mail-in ballots are laying the groundwork for a fraudulent November election.
He has said that absentee voting, where people actively affirm that they cannot physically go to the polls for a valid reason, is OK.
“Again, absentee good, universal mail-in, very bad,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday.
Mr. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have requested mail ballots for Florida’s primary election on Tuesday.
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