Trump VS USPS: Who Will Survive?

Clara Browne-Amorim
Cover by TNGO Illustrator Andrea Ruffoni Semidey

Trump has admitted he is undermining the US Postal Service in order to make it harder to vote by mail: on the 13th August he said tha he was opposing additional funding of the USPS to make it more difficult to deliver mail-in ballots.
Trump has falsely claimed that widespread mail-in voting will lead to fraud and thus has opposed Democratic proposals of $3.6 billion of aid to states to run elections and $25 billion of aid to the postal service.
States have so far received only $400 million to aid in running elections despite the expectation of very high turnout for this year’s election, both in-person and via mail.

The postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, is a major Trump donor and throughout the 15th August, following Trump’s remarks, has been facing demonstrations by protesters outside his Washington DC home. In July, several news organisations reported the agency was banning overtime and instructing postal workers to disregard mail if it is delayed on its route to them. There have also recently been photos captured in Portland of post boxes being removed by government vans, reportedly due to ‘significant decline in mail volume’.

It appears the destruction of the postal service is already in motion. It also appears the destruction of this vital service is being engineered on purpose by President Trump, in anticipation of an election that he is not planned to win, according to the polls.

Andrew Bates, spokesman for Joe Biden the Democrat Presidential Nominee, had this to say:

“The president of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years”

Following this attack on democracy, I, like many others, have been curious as to how destructively (constitutionally) the President of the United States is allowed to act.
In Article 1 Section 8, in the powers designated to the legislature, the Constitution states that Congress ‘is to provide for naturalization, standards of weights and measures, post offices and roads’. It is clearly stated that it is a constitutional right of every citizen of the United States to have a functioning post office, provided for by Congress. In taking the inaugural oath, any President vows to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

The provision for removing a President and all other civil officers from office lies in Article 2 Section 4, stating they ‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’. Much of the US Constitution is laid out in these purposefully vague terms, a decision made by the Founding Fathers to allow the Constitution to be flexible to interpretation. According to the Congressional Research Service ‘the notion that only criminal conduct can constitute sufficient grounds for impeachment does not comport with either the views of the founders or with historical practice. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 65, described impeachable offences as arising from “the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust”.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable to believe that the destruction of the post office could be considered an impeachable offence.

Protests outside DeJoy’s DC Home
Source: Axios

President Trump has actually already been impeached in 2019. He was charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, following allegations that he had sought help from Ukrainian authorities to favour him in the 2020 election. Trump was acquitted by the Senate, which is currently Republican-controlled, because neither charge for impeachment reached the two-thirds supermajority needed.

According to Article 1 Section 2 of the US Constitution, the Senate has the sole power to hold the trial for all impeachments. Unfortunately, the final vote at the end of Trump’s 2019 trial was decided almost entirely on partisan lines, with all 45 Democrats involved in the trial voting Guilty for both charges, and Senator Mitt Romney being the only Republican to vote Guilty, against party lines. This does not offer much hope for a second impeachment trial having any more success than the first, not unless the Republican Senators show any willingness to vote against their President.

The post office remains vulnerable and with the November election on the horizon, mail-in voting is in serious danger. At the time of publication of this article, the House Oversight Committee announced a hearing for 24th August, inviting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Robert M. Duncan, calling back Congress from recess because of the fears that DeJoy is implementing policies that are structurally damaging the mail service in order to create election chaos. However, with Trump’s support (DeJoy being a major donor to his campaign) and a Republican-controlled Senate and House, there do not seem to be many defences left for the postal service, and thus for a lot of voters’ ballots sent via mail.

Over the coming weeks, we may see partisan clashes between Democrats and the GOP as it continues to enable Trump and DeJoy’s attacks. This is a vital time for the United States, the ‘leader of the free world’, and we will see if it can survive this latest attack on its citizens constitutional rights and democratic freedom to vote.

  • How will the Democrats be able to defend the Postal Service without House, Senate or Executive control?
  • Will the restriction of mail-in voting be enough to give Trump a second term at the 2020 elections?
  • If Trump and DeJoy succeed in dismantling the Postal Service, does it call into question the validity and effectiveness of the Constitution in defending itself against a civil officer seemingly immune to impeachment?

Further Readings

BBC, Trump impeachment: The short, medium and long story

CNN, Trump’s finger-pointing on USPS is latest attempt to rewrite history in real time

The Guardian, Trump admits he is undermining USPS to make it harder to vote by mail

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