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Obama: Trump trying to 'actively kneecap' Postal Service to affect 2020 election

Trump has said he opposes a proposed boost in funding for the Postal Service to prevent it from being able to handle increased volume of mail-in ballots.
Image: Barack Obama
Barack Obama speaks at a town hall with young European leaders on April 6, 2019 in Berlin.John Macdougall / AFP via Getty Images file

Former President Barack Obama, in an interview released Friday, slammed President Donald Trump for trying to “actively kneecap the Postal Service” to affect mail-in voting in the 2020 election and urged lawmakers and citizens to take actions to “protect the integrity” of the election.

Obama, speaking on the podcast of his former campaign manager David Plouffe, was responding to recent comments by Trump, who said earlier this week that holding up emergency funds for the U.S. Postal Service would ensure that the post office would be unable to “take all of these millions and millions of ballots.”

Obama, responding to those remarks, accused Republicans of having tried for years "to discourage people’s votes from counting in all kinds of ways,” like voter identification laws and gerrymandering, but said Trump’s threats were “unique to modern history.”

“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 said of Trump, who has pushed for in-person voting. "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.”

“So in that circumstance, the thing I'm most worried about is … how do we protect the integrity of the election process? How do we make sure that people's votes are counted? How do we police and monitor how state officials are setting up polling places and ensuring that every vote is counted?” he continued.

Trump has so far resisted congressional Democrats' efforts to add billions of dollars to the Postal Service budget to help fund the extra work needed to process more voting by mail as a result of the coronavirus pandemic — although he later suggested he would not veto such funding if it were part of the next coronavirus relief package.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that mail-in voting, used in the United States since the Civil War, invites fraud. There’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States, according to numerous investigations and studies.

In June, a major Trump donor, Louis DeJoy, was installed as postmaster general, and earlier this month, he announced a major shakeup of the service's top leadership.

And earlier this summer, Trump's presidential campaign sued to block Nevada's expansive mail-in voting plans.