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Ohio attorney general warns Trump against changes to USPS

Posted at 7:11 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 22:43:59-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s attorney general joined the chorus of people calling on President Donald Trump to cease his attempts to starve the U.S. Postal Service of money ahead of the November election.

Attorney General Dave Yost pleaded with Trump to postpone any needed changes to the Postal Service until after Election Day, warning that the “radical changes” would “place the solvency of the Post Office above the legitimacy of the Government itself,” according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.

The letter from Yost, a fellow Republican, comes after Trump appeared in an interview on Fox Business Network on Thursday where he frankly acknowledged he’s starving the Postal Service of money in order to make it harder to process an expected surge of mail-in ballots, which he worries could cost him the election.

On Monday, Trump denied he was asking for the mail to be delayed, telling reporters, “I have encouraged everybody: Speed up the mail, not slow the mail.”

In the letter, Yost acknowledges the Postal Service’s “outdated and broken business model,” but says it is unclear if the changes that are being made, including the removal of sorting equipment and mailboxes, are “even across geographic and political communities, raising the question of disparate impacts.”

Yost warned, “These changes so close to the election are certain to give rise to litigation, which in turn will create a sense of chaos and uncertainty that will likely roll right into the early voting period -- thereby de-legitimizing the thousands of winners of the November contests.”

The attorney general makes the case that so many communities, including the elderly and U.S. troops overseas, rely heavily on the Postal Service to deliver their vote.

In response to the outcry over the president’s actions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a vote to take place Saturday after the Democratic National Convention on legislation that would prohibit changes at the agency.

As Trump ramps up reelection efforts in battleground states like Ohio, Yost serves as a titular head of the president’s efforts in the state, according to The Columbus Dispatch, who first reported the attorney general’s letter Monday.

Nonetheless, Yost made clear how high the stakes are, as Ohio is one of a number of states depending on mail-in voting as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Anything less than full confidence in the timely receipt of all timely mailed absentee ballots will rob the winners of an honest victory and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat,” he wrote. “Our country cannot take any more of that.”


Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.