Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was grilled by Democrats over his undermining of the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to deliver ballots on time.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.
Donald Trump: This will be the most corrupt election in the history of our country.
Jaisal Noor: Welcome to the Real News, I’m Jaisal Noor. With the election less than two and a half months away, activists are sounding the alarm that Trump’s cuts to the post office are threatening the ability of the United States to hold a free and fair election.
In response, house lawmakers who approved 25 billion in emergency aid to the post office last week, grilled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Monday. The house asked about cutbacks at the post office and the dismantling of sorting machines ahead of an expected surge in mail-in ballots in the November election. DeJoy said he would not restore sorting machines before the election under questioning by democratic rep, Stephen Lynch.
Steven Lynch: Will you put the machine back?
Louis DeJoy: I’m very proud to lead the organization. The rest of your accusations are actually outrageous.
Steven Lynch: Will you put the machines back?
Louis DeJoy: No, I will not.
Jaisal Noor: All of this happens as President Trump stokes fear and makes unfounded claims about so-called voter fraud connected to mail-in ballots as he accepted the Republican nomination on Monday.
Crowd: Four more years. Four more years.
Donald Trump: Now if you want to really drive them crazy, you say 12 more years. We have to be very careful because they’re trying it again with this whole 80 million mail-in ballots that they’re working on, sending them out to people that didn’t ask for them. They didn’t ask, they just get them. And it’s not fair, and it’s not right, and it’s not going to be possible to tabulate.
Jaisal Noor: Well, joining us to discuss this is Jennifer Epps-Addison, president and co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, whose over 800,000 members endorsed Bernie Sanders in the primary, and just recently endorsed Joe Biden in the general election. Thank you so much for joining us again.
Jennifer Epps-Addison: Thank you so much for having me.
Jaisal Noor: So Trump’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended his action in front of the house oversight committee today. He maintains at least $30 million in stocks with direct competitors of the USPS. How do you perceive the scope of these threats? We’re hearing about sorting machines being dismantled, cutbacks overall to the post office. What are grassroots groups doing to oppose these cuts?
Jennifer Epps-Addison: First of all, I think we have to understand what’s happening with our post office under the context of a corrupt administration who has seen many members of its cabinet indicted, many members of the cabinet convicted.
We know that DeJoy’s appointment is not about his qualifications. In fact, in his testimony, he could not even tell us how much it costs to mail a postcard. He doesn’t understand the workings of the post office. His appointment is a political appointment. One meant to suppress votes. One meant to help give an edge to this administration.
And I think the Trump administration has been crystal clear that their intent is not to have a free and fair election, their intent is to engage in voter suppression, be it in coordination with States like Georgia, who are closing polling places and making it so people have to wait three, four, five, six hours to vote.
But in addition to that, he’s using the institutions of service in our government, namely the post office, as a way of slowing down the counts of ballots of sowing confusion, and fear of confusing voters so that they miss critical deadlines. And overall, just casting a dispersion on this election, as in his own words, he tries to maneuver for additional terms.
Jaisal Noor: So I have to ask. It appears to me that Trump is setting up himself for a defeat in November, and he’s setting himself up to not accept the election results, which is going to cause a massive crisis in this country. What’s going to happen next?
Are group’s preparing for that eventuality? And are they starting to think of a plan? What needs to happen in that eventuality, which in many people’s opinion is exactly what’s going to happen. If they could predict it, that’s what’s going to happen in the days after this election.
Jennifer Epps-Addison: The first thing that we have to say is that the best way for us to protect ourselves in November is to ensure a crushing defeat of Donald Trump through the electoral college. It means motivating those States that will give Joe Biden at decisive enough electoral college victory.
And that means black and Brown voters have to vote in record numbers in places like Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and Minnesota. But you are right. It is entirely likely that because of the surge in mail-in voting and vote by mail, that we will not have a complete picture of who has won this election on election night.
It may take several days and/or weeks to finish a full, complete count of the ballots. And if that is the case, there are rules of decorum. There are ways of dealing with that. But what we know is that none of what we’ve seen out of President Trump indicates that he will do so in an ethical way, that he will do so in the best interests of the country. What we’re seeing is him setting himself up to sow confusion, and to be able to continue to maintain and hold onto power, even if he is not duly elected through the electoral college.
So we are absolutely considering it. We need people to remain vigilant and ready, but we also want people to know, even if Joe Biden is elected, even if the electoral college votes are indisputable, people still need to be ready. You mentioned our network endorsed Vice President Biden, and we want to be clear. Our endorsement is not an acquiescence to a status quo agenda, and it’s certainly not an acquiescence to a neoliberal agenda.
We want to be prepared whether it is Trump or Biden to be in the streets, to bring about a wave of mass mobilizations, and to name a people’s agenda that puts the people of this country, our planet, and really our recovery from this pandemic first no matter who comes out victorious in the November election.
Jaisal Noor: And I want to ask you about this moment right now, and really made it really this whole year. Because we were on the ground in New Hampshire where members of CPD Action were critical in helping Sanders pull off big win in New Hampshire, setting himself up as the front-runner in this race, and that’ shortly before we spoke last. And really taking on Biden’s climate policy among other policies.
Last week he accepted the democratic nomination. You wrote in the Nation about your opposition to someone like
Kamala Harris, his vice president, and progressives had backed other candidates. That’s all in the past now, what does it mean to now be mobilizing voters for them, knowing their track record especially when it comes to issues like criminal justice in the context of, as we’ve been talking about the threat that Trump poses to not only just the election, but our democracy itself?
Jennifer Epps-Addison: I’m looking down because I’m getting emotional. Yesterday, we heard about the horrific shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I’m from Wisconsin. I’m a proud Wisconsinite, and people know a lot of things about Wisconsin. It’s known for its beer and it’s cheese, and maybe it’s its football team. But what most people don’t know is it’s the literal worst place in America to be black. If you Google it, Wisconsin comes up.
And so I’m getting emotional because I understand that I’m asking people to go out and vote for a democratic ticket that doesn’t deserve Jacob Blake or the millions of black people who have been suffering under state violence in this country. And I understand that our job in convincing people about what’s at stake and why it is still worthwhile to go and vote for that ticket is much more difficult because not only do we have one of the authors of the 94 Crime Bill, but we also have a prosecutor who helped push those policies forward and enforce those policies.
That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially for folks who really believe that this is a moment where we can finally have a conversation about fully transforming systems of criminalization and incarceration. And at the same time, I think what is important is that we have to be honest with our people. So we want you to feel all the feels.
I certainly was a Bernie endorser, both now and in 2016. I am feeling the feels, trust me. But then I want us to take a sober assessment of our power and to ask ourselves a real question. Under which president, either Joe Biden or Bernie sorry, I was going to say Bernie Sanders. Either Joe Biden or Donald Trump will be president? That is a fact. And the question we have to ask ourselves is, will less of our people die under Joe Biden or under Donald Trump?
Do we imagine that we will get more COVID relief under a Biden administration, or a Trump administration? As somebody who voted for Hillary in 2016, but did not do all of the work that I normally do in election making phone calls, shooting out text messages, knocking on doors. I often ask myself, where would the movement for Medicare for All be if the last four years we were organizing against democrats to expand the ACA or to create that public option, instead of just fighting against Donald Trump to protect the ACA at the bare minimum level? And that’s the conversation we had within our network and our network ultimately decided to endorse Joe Biden.
Jaisal Noor: So Trump officially accepted the nomination just a few hours after we were speaking right now on Monday in a Republican convention that’s a who’s who of conspiracy theorists, white supremacist, right-wing grifters, and other truly scary figures.
You talked about the importance of winning swing states. Trump, despite everything that’s happened over the last three and a half years, Trump maintains a very high approval rating amongst republicans. Do you think democrats are doing too much to appeal to conservatives rather than trying to get out members of its own base? We all know how the convention for democrat played out last week. A lot of people raised that exact issue.
Jennifer Epps-Addison: The first thing I want to say is progressives are not sitting around waiting to be invited into the conversation or to the table. And so I know there was a lot made about who was speaking, and who wasn’t speaking, but I think people actually should have paid a lot more attention to who was organizing their own events on the side of the convention conversation.
From Linda Sarsour organizing Muslim voters. Our own network had a launch of our United Against Trump, which is a program with lots of progressive organizations and activists across the country who understand our task is to defeat Donald Trump in this election.
So I understand why people made that point, but I want to be clear. Joe Biden clearly has a strategy where he believes that there are enough 2016 Trump voters who are willing to cross over to vote for him in 2020 in order to secure this election. I do not share that analysis, nor do I believe history has born that out. People should remember that Barack Obama won the presidency twice, neither which of those times did he win a majority of white voters. I believe that if a Democrat wins in 2020, it will not be with the support of a majority of white voters.
What does that mean to groups like ours and to Progressives? It’s our community, and it’s our responsibility to help them participate in this election at record numbers. We should anticipate that the Biden administration or the Biden campaign should I say, will not help us with that. They will continue to make choices that play to a constituency that ultimately does not share our values.
And yet we are in the position we’re in, and so we again have to have the right conversations with our communities about what our strategy will be in pushing a Biden administration. And part of that strategy is defeating authoritarianism and this racist regime in Donald Trump in order to get to a place where we can push for co-governance and push our policies forward.
Jaisal Noor: And I wanted to end on this question because I’m sure you get asked this a lot. There’s a lot of discourse about this online and just people are having conversations on the left about what you’ve addressed their role in the Democratic Party, what the left’s role is, what kind of force can it play. We know how that’s played out on local elections, where members of the squad grew their ranks by a huge amount in a lot of local congressional races.
Yeah, Cory Bush, Jamaal Bowman and a number of other candidates across the country winning big races. But what do you say to activists that say, look, we can’t get behind a Biden and a Harris administration. We have to work outside of the Democratic Party entirely.
Jennifer Epps-Addison: Again, what we’re talking about is Joe Biden is not a liberation candidate. That’s the truth. I want a liberatory politics as much as anybody else. That’s why I joined the Working Families Party. It’s why I’m [inaudible 00:14:24] to a personal member, and our network is also a member of that political party.
Voting for Joe Biden is a harm reduction strategy. And the reality is, is that there is a lot of harm that we need to get in the way of, that we need to stop, that we need to try to redress that is happening under this administration. And we also need people to make a deep commitment that we just don’t go back to “normal” as soon as Trump is gone.
Because many of these problems, 40 million people living in poverty, the number of people without health insurance, the number of people who are homeless, many of those problems existed before Trump, they will exist after Trump.
And so our job is to push a Biden administration, and put in place a Congress and a Senate that will put a Medicare for all bill, a green new deal bill, a guaranteed housing bill onto president Biden’s desk. And that’s the role that our network is going to play, and we invite everybody who believes in freedom and wants to get back to that into our movement.
Jaisal Noor: All right, Jennifer Epps-Addison, it’s always a pleasure to speak with you, and we’ll definitely have you on again, soon, we want to talk more about what the strategy is in these swing States. And a lot of people forget that this election is going to be decided by really a handful of voters, and a handful of districts, and a handful of States, and that is really the bigger context here.
Jennifer Epps-Addison: Thank you so much for having me, and I look forward to talking after this election.
Jaisal Noor: Thank you for joining us at the Real News Network.