House Democrats Ask FBI Director to Launch Criminal Inquiry Into Postmaster General
Two Democrats in the House – Representatives Ted Lieu (CA) and Hakeem Jeffries (NY) – have requested that FBI Director Christopher Wray open a criminal inquiry into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the United States Postal Service Board of Governors over their controversial structural changes and purging of top brass inside the country’s mail delivery service.
Lieu and Jeffries wrote in a letter to Wray on Sunday that “there is overwhelming evidence that Postmaster General DeJoy and the Board of Governors have hindered the passage of mail,” indulging President Donald Trump’s desire to cripple mail-in voting and steal the election.
Scoop on @Morning_Joe: Two Democratic members of House Judiciary are calling for a criminal inquiry of Postmaster DeJoy and the Board of Governors. Here’s the letter to the FBI from @RepTedLieu & @RepJeffries. pic.twitter.com/fj0N4dpnvr
— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) August 17, 2020
The Congressmen identified two criminal statutes which they believe DeJoy and the Board of Governors violated.
The first, 18 USC 1701, states: “Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”
The second, 18 USC 595, reads: “Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States, or by any department or agency thereof, or by the District of Columbia or any agency or instrumentality thereof, or by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States, or any political subdivision, municipality, or agency thereof, or agency of such political subdivision or municipality (including any corporation owned or controlled by any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States or by any such political subdivision, municipality, or agency), in connection with any activity which is financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States, or any department or agency thereof, uses his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
This section shall not prohibit or make unlawful any act by any officer or employee of any educational or research institution, establishment, agency, or system which is supported in whole or in part by any state or political subdivision thereof, or by the District of Columbia or by any Territory or Possession of the United States; or by any recognized religious, philanthropic or cultural organization.”
At the heart of the congressmen’s complaint are recent actions taken within USPS by DeJoy and left unchecked by the Board of Governors, including:
-the removal of letter collection boxes throughout the country
-the decommissioning of mail-sorting machines, which are crucial for counting mail-in ballots
-a late-night firing of nearly two dozen high-level USPS officials
-USPS warnings of potential voter disenfranchisement in 46 states directly linked to the slashing of personnel, hours, overtime pay, and infrastructure
“It is not unreasonable to conclude that Postmaster General DeJoy and the Board of Governors may be executing Donald Trump’s desire to affect mail-in balloting,” the letter alleges.
Trump, however, has been the lead cheerleader in the campaign to kneecap the USPS. He has continued to make dubious claims about mail-in voting being wrought with fraud (there is no evidence to support this). He has accused postal workers, China, and Russia of stealing ballots. He has mused about ballots getting sent to dogs and dead people. He said that mail-in voting is an “impossibility” because “the Post Office isn’t set up for this” (in fact it is, unless the Trump administration gets its way). He has admitted that he is intentionally obstructing emergency funding to assist the USPS during an unprecedented national crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic – which has killed more than 170,000 Americans.
Perhaps the most (or maybe the least) surprising twist in this fiasco is not that Trump has defended absentee voting, which is done by mail, but that Trump votes by mail. He and First Lady Melania Trump requested their ballots in Florida last Tuesday.