Trump's postmaster general testifies

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 12:49 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020
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11:51 a.m. ET, August 21, 2020

The US postmaster general faced senators today. Here's how it went.

A Senate hearing featuring testimony from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has now ended.

DeJoy took questions from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the US Postal Service's operations and concerns about mail-in voting.

The postmaster general denied that he changed USPS policies regarding election mail this year, and assured lawmakers that ballots mailed on time will arrive on time to be counted.

"As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time," DeJoy said. "This sacred duty is my number one priority between now and election day."

DeJoy announced earlier this week that the USPS is suspending changes he had put in place that have raised concerns about the upcoming election.

Democrats have claimed that DeJoy, who has been an ally of President Trump and Republican donor, is intentionally undermining Postal Service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election — a charge DeJoy denies.

DeJoy acknowledged to United States Postal Service employees last week that recent procedural changes have had "unintended consequences," but he also described them as necessary.

"When I found out about it, we socialized with the leadership team and looked at what the excitement it was creating so I decided to stop it and we’ll pick it up after the election. But this a normal process that has been around for 50 years," DeJoy said at today's hearing.

12:49 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

USPS to send mailers explaining voting to "every American" next month, DeJoy says

From CNN's From Kelly Mena and Marshall Cohen

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told lawmakers Friday that USPS plans to “send a letter to every American” explaining “what our process is” for mail-in voting.

“We are emphasizing, and in fact, I think in September we’re going to send a letter to every American with what our process is, going out to every American citizen,” DeJoy said at a hearing before the Republican-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee.

Democrats have accused DeJoy of politicizing the postal service by initiating disruptive changes that could affect election mail. DeJoy has reversed many of these changes, and tried to assure senators that he wasn’t taking orders from President Trump, who sees mail-in voting as a political threat.

As CNN has previously reported, election mailers from official sources and third-party groups sometimes cause confusion for voters who sometimes think unsolicited mail with election information signifies that they are not registered to vote or haven’t applied for their absentee ballot correctly. 

Election laws vary drastically by state, so if USPS plans to send the same mailer to all Americans, it will need to be general information about how the postal service handles mail-in voting – and likely not specific guidance about local election rules.  

12:20 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

DeJoy tussles with Democratic senator over transparency

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen from Nevada speaks during a virtual hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on August 21.
Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen from Nevada speaks during a virtual hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on August 21. Senate Homeland Security Committee

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen from Nevada pressed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for transparency on the changes he's making at USPS.

"We need transparency in the changes you've been making and in everything that you've discussed here today," Rosen told DeJoy at today's Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"Will you commit to providing this committee with any and all transcripts or minutes of all closed, non-public word of governor meetings from this year by this Sunday? Can you commit to that sir?" she asked the postmaster general.

DeJoy said he couldn't commit to providing minutes and transcripts because "I don't know, I don't have the authority to do some of those things. And that is something that I would need to discuss with counsel and the board's counsel, so I can't commit to that."

Watch:

12:06 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

USPS chief: I'm "extremely highly confident" ballots mailed on time will arrive on time

In an exchange with Sen. Mitt Romney, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy aimed to quell fears that delays in mailing would cause ballots to not arrive to their destination on time to be counted.

"Do you have a high degree of confidence that virtually all the ballots that would be mailed, let’s say 7 days before of an election, would actually be able to be received and counted? If people vote within 7 days of an election — are you highly confident that those ballots would then be received?" Sen. Romney asked.

"Extremely highly confident. We will scour every plant each night leading up to election day. Very, very confident," DeJoy said.

Watch:

12:01 p.m. ET, August 21, 2020

USPS chief: We "need to be reimbursed" by federal government for costs

Asked if the Postal Service needed a "massive federal bailout" to be able to deliver mail on election night, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told lawmakers they did not, but said Congress and the federal government did need to act to help USPS navigate the financial downturn brought on by Covid-19.

"No, I don't need anything to deliver mail on election night, but we do need legislative reform. We do need the freedom from the change in the [Postal Regulatory Commission] regulation, and we do need to be — we do need to be reimbursed for our costs. When you look at during the Covid —during the pandemic, we still delivered to 99% of the American homes and —with no revenue, no revenue. The American postal worker was out there. This organization continued to perform, and its why we've had such high ratings while our revenues were down," DeJoy said.

"We continued to do what we're supposed to do and at a significant cost impact, you know, and I'm one to try to get to a sustainable model, but in this case we — I believe we deserve some compensation for it," DeJoy added.

Watch:

10:27 a.m. ET, August 21, 2020

Lawsuit against USPS filed as postmaster general testifies

From CNN’s Lauren del Valle

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks at a rally at Independence Mall on March 2, 2017 in Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks at a rally at Independence Mall on March 2, 2017 in Philadelphia. Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the Postal Service this morning in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The filing comes as DeJoy is testifying at an ongoing Senate hearing.

In addition to Pennsylvania, plaintiff states named in the lawsuit include California, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

The lawsuit alleges "DeJoy illegally bypassed the Postal Regulatory Commission, and that the impact of mail delays violate the Election and Electors clauses of the Constitution," according to a statement. The plan to file the lawsuit was announced earlier this week. 

“After days of confusion from Postmaster General DeJoy, we are filing our suit to protect the Postal Service and make sure every eligible vote counts. As Mr. DeJoy is sworn in to testify in front of Congress, it is clear his words are not enough, we need guarantees,” Shapiro said in a statement. “This isn’t about mailboxes being repainted — this is about real, operational changes that have delayed the mail and are illegal.”

10:44 a.m. ET, August 21, 2020

DeJoy says he was unaware 700 collection boxes had been removed 

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a Republican-led Senate committee that since his arrival, the Postal Service has removed 700 collection boxes, of "which I had no idea that that was a process."

When he found out this was happening, DeJoy told lawmakers he and the leadership team discussed it and decided to halt the removals.

"When I found out about it, we socialized with the leadership team and looked at what the excitement it was creating so I decided to stop it and we’ll pick it up after the election. But this a normal process that has been around for 50 years," DeJoy said.

DeJoy said there are over 140,000 collection boxes in the US, and over the last 10 years, about 35,000 of them have been removed. He said the decision to remove boxes is a "data-driven method" where USPS looks at utilization of the post boxes, where they place new post boxes and where communities are growing.

With regards to sorting machines, DeJoy said USPS evaluates its machine capacity before deciding to move them.

"The mail volume, you know, is dropping very rapidly and especially during the Covid crisis. And package volume is growing, and when I spoke with the team — when this too became —got a lot of air play, we really are moving these machines out to make room to process packages. We still have hundreds of these machines everywhere and still not any kind of drain on the capacity, DeJoy said.

"I repeat, both the collection boxes and this machine closedown I was — I was made aware when everybody else was made aware," the postmaster general said.

Watch:

10:34 a.m. ET, August 21, 2020

DeJoy says he's voted by mail "for a number of years"

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, speaking to senators this morning, said he supports mail-in voting and has voted that way "for a number of years."

He vowed that the USPS would "deliver every ballot and process every ballot in time that it receives."

"I think the American public should be able to vote by mail," DeJoy said, adding that the Postal Service will support it.

Watch:

10:26 a.m. ET, August 21, 2020

Postmaster general denies he changed USPS policies regarding election mail

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy speaks during a virtual hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on August 21.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy speaks during a virtual hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on August 21. Senate Homeland Security Committee

At a Senate hearing Friday morning, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy denied that he changed USPS policies regarding election mail this year. 

“First, I'd like to emphasize that there has been no changes in any policies with regard to election mail for the 2020 election,” DeJoy said at the beginning of the hearing. 

DeJoy’s denial comes after two weeks of controversy and crisis surrounding USPS, with DeJoy facing bipartisan criticism over policy changes and accusations of politicization by senior Democrats.  

Watch: