Trump crony, Postmaster General DeJoy, lies under oath to Congress
U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies before a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on slowdowns ahead of the November elections on Capitol Hill, Aug. 24. | Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — Louis DeJoy, the Trump-named Postmaster General who’s ordered his minions to yank out mailboxes and dismantle sorting machines—among other moves—once again denied he’s deliberately doing so to curb voting by mail this fall.

“The U.S. Postal Service is fully committed to delivering ballots safely and on time,” he told the House Oversight Committee on August 24. DeJoy blamed state and local election boards if votes don’t get counted because they arrive after Election Day this fall. With that testimony, he adds his name to the ever-growing list of Trump sycophants who have lied under oath to the Congress of the United States.

But during a day-long, often contentious House Oversight Committee hearing, it was clear many of the panel’s majority Democrats didn’t believe him, even though DeJoy testified under oath.

The hearing focused entirely on DeJoy’s changes which slow the mail and put on-time delivery of ballots for the November election in doubt. They did not touch on the wider GOP Trump regime plan, pushed by right-wing ideologues in the White House and President Donald Trump himself, to “privatize” the Postal Service.

That scheme would let private delivery outfits grab profitable routes, shed rural deliveries, scrap union contracts, and cut workers’ pay, pensions and health care. DeJoy himself said he wants to tackle workers’ pensions and health care, too—after the election.

“Seventy percent” of poll respondents “favor vote by mail, and 50-60% plan to use it,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who chairs an Oversight subcommittee which handles postal issues. “Let’s stipulate your motives were pure, but as a good CEO, when you see unintended consequences—including scaring voters half to death—you change.”

DeJoy spent much of his time ducking questions about who exactly ordered the removal of thousands of blue mailboxes and dismantling of 671 flat-mail sorting machines—those needed to sort election mail in particular. He said he couldn’t provide a name, since USPS has 30,000 supervisors. It also has 604,000 rank-and-file workers.

He did admit to ordering one change: Having postal trucks go out half-full or even less. That leaves letters and packages lying on postal docks.  He also denied ordering a ban on overtime. Postal Workers and Letter Carriers often must put in overtime to make sure the mail goes through as scheduled.

“If the mail wasn’t moved on that truck, it would be on the next truck or the next day,” he told Connolly. He also contended there are “other factors” which have caused long delays in deliveries—delays cited by many of the lawmakers. DeJoy ducked listing those factors.

As might be expected, DeJoy, a former logistics company CEO, also denied discussing postal service issues with GOP President Donald Trump after becoming Postmaster General. He did admit to discussing “the terms of” a $10 billion Treasury line of credit with Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin. But DeJoy said “there was no direction the other way” by Mnuchin, a point repeatedly and flatly contradicted by both news reports and postal unions.

The August 24 hearing came in the wake of weeks of nationwide protests against DeJoy’s moves, which even he admitted did not turn out the way he hoped. He also said he implemented them in the summer, traditionally a slower mail season, and expected little attention.

That hope has boomeranged, thanks to the Letter Carriers, the Postal Workers, and everyone else nationwide. Lawmakers repeatedly told DeJoy they’ve been flooded with complaints of delayed checks, missed medicines, rotting food, and more. They’ve also taken to the streets.

The latest round of protests, on August 22, coincided with a 257-150 House vote on HR8015, to order DeJoy to roll back all USPS changes dating to this past January 1. The Postal Workers (APWU) will lead another round of national protests on August 25, aimed to put pressure on the GOP-led Senate to pass the legislation, which also includes $25 billion the USPS board says the service needs to get through the year—and the election.

Sign-ups for those local rallies are at www.apwu.org/aug25 along with printable signs, flyers and tool kits for organizers.

But it was also clear the looming November 3 election was on everybody’s minds, including lawmakers from both parties and DeJoy himself. He repeatedly pledged election-related mail would get top priority from workers, and that removal of the machines and mailboxes wouldn’t affect collecting the votes.

DeJoy admitted there’s been slippage in delivery of everything from first-class letters to parcels to medicines but wouldn’t give numbers.

Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., reading from an internal USPS  report, provided the data DeJoy did not: 8.1% of first-class mail was delayed since he took over in mid-June, along with 8.42% of marketing mail and 9.57% of periodicals. Gomez added 4,000 dead baby chicks and rotting food to the pile. Both, he told DeJoy, attracted rats to the postal facilities in his city, Los Angeles.

“You and your aides have repeatedly downplayed these delays as ‘just details,’” Maloney told DeJoy. But since the Postal Service and its 604,000 workers, more than 80% of them union members, move more than 350 million pieces of mail a day, those percentages turn into millions of missed deliveries.

Panel Republicans spent their time bleating about how the hearing was a stage show. Some apologized to DeJoy. Several more excitable ones compared it to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference on behalf of Trump in the 2016 election and to the House-passed impeachment of Trump in 2019. They called all three—the hearing included—failed Democratic stunts.

DeJoy did give ground on two issues. He said he’s passed the word that Trump’s hostile tweets about USPS and its workers were unhelpful. He was not asked if he raised that issue in his talk with the White House denizen. And DeJoy favored keeping six-day delivery, a favorite cause of postal workers, unions and, most importantly, customers.

Near the end, Reps. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., and Ayanna Presley, D-Mass., called on DeJoy to resign.

“I do think it’s time for you to step down” so USPS gets “someone who can run it—or have the Board of Governors fire you,” Gomez said.  The board is GOP-dominated. Indeed, Trump named the whole board, including its chair, Mike Duncan, who, like DeJoy, was a GOP big giver.

“I’ve heard from a number of Letter Carriers stories that completely conflict with what you said,” added Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who noted  “an impeached president,” named DeJoy. “Your job as Postmaster General is not to serve your own profit,” she said. Retorted DeJoy: “I don’t see any reason I would ever commit to resigning.”

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CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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