Postmaster General Louis DeJoy disagreed with comments from the president and U.S. attorney general regarding mail-in voting during a phone conference last week with secretaries of state from across the country, according to audio of the call obtained by The Denver Post.
When asked by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, DeJoy also said he agreed that attempts — from Barr or others — to spread misinformation about postal workers and mail-in elections would be meant to undermine confidence in the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to carry out a mail-in election.
David Rupert, USPS communications manager, declined to comment on DeJoy’s statements. Instead, Rupert pointed to press releases about the conference sent last week. Those releases underscored DeJoy’s confidence in postal workers’ abilities to carry out the election, which is likely to see a substantial increase of voters mailing in ballots due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The official statements from USPS did not, however, detail the exchange between Griswold and DeJoy.
Griswold’s questions carry some weight because Colorado’s vote-by-mail system is considered the country’s gold standard. In addition, her administration — alongside Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser — sued the Postal Service after it sent mailers across the state containing false and misleading information about the state’s election practices. A federal judge quickly barred the Postal Service from sending additional mailers to voters in Colorado.
“I want to ask you specifically about the events over the last few months where President (Donald) Trump and the attorney general have relentlessly promoted misinformation about vote by mail,” Griswold said. “From saying that he was attacking the postal service to try and stop vote by mail, to inhibit vote by mail. To saying lies about foreign countries interceding in vote by mail. To litigation on mail ballot drop boxes.”
“We are concerned about the level of misinformation. And Mr. Postmaster General, I would like to specifically know what is your specific plan to address the misinformation coming from the administration, increase confidence in the United States Postal Service’s ability to safely and securely deliver ballots? And how will you use your position as postmaster general to protect our democracy from forces actively trying to undermine confidence in the election?”
DeJoy noted that he has repeatedly said in testimony and statements that he “actually at points disagree with the president publicly on that particular issue.”
“And I said earlier we’re very well prepared to support the mail-in-vote process and that’s all I really want to comment on that at this point,” DeJoy said, avoiding the specifics of Griswold’s questions.
Later in the conversation, Griswold noted Attorney General William Barr’s unsubstantiated claims that postal workers could easily be bribed for ballots.
“Do you agree with Attorney General Barr and, if so, what are you doing specifically to protect mail carriers and protect our democracy?”
“I’m not going to engage in this kind of discussion,” DeJoy said.
But Griswold pressed the issue.
“OK, to be very clear, it’s a discussion specifically about the postal workers who you oversee and the attorney general saying that they are open to bribes in an ability to tilt the election, so I would like your response,” she said.
DeJoy responded: “As I testified in Congress, I have full confidence in the postal employees to fulfill their obligations during the election process. And I didn’t take the bait then, and I won’t take it now.”
Griswold said that she did not cast the “bait,” but rather the attorney general did.
“The attorney general is obviously a very important position in the United States and I guess I will take from this conversation that like you, I believe that postal workers will be able to carry out the election and that any allegations of bribes of postal workers are intended to undermine confidence. Thank you.”
“We agree on that, thank you,” DeJoy said.
After the conference call, Griswold told The New York Times she found DeJoy’s disagreement with Trump noteworthy but also questioned his authenticity, saying “actions speak louder than words.”
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