'I don't know what he's doing': Trump praises USPS chief and claims Democrats withholding Postal Service funding for election

The president claimed that Louis DeJoy, a top donor to the Trump campaign, 'wants to make the Post Office great again' 

Alex Woodward
Saturday 15 August 2020 19:01 BST
President Trump speaks during a news conference at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Saturday
President Trump speaks during a news conference at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Saturday (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Donald Trump heaped praise on postmaster general Louis DeJoy, a top campaign donor who he appointed as the agency's chief earlier this summer, and claimed that Democrats were withholding funding from the postal service ahead of the election.

The president held a press conference at his Bedminster golf club on Saturday evening where he claimed the US was bouncing back from the pandemic before winding through topics including China, college football and Edward Snowden while firing off attacks on presidential candidate Joe Biden and his recently-announced running mate, Kamala Harris.

Mr Trump continued with his unsubstantiated attacks on mail-in ballots, claiming that it would be "catastrophic" for the November election.

"You're not gonna know [the election results] for months or for years. Because these [mail] ballots are all gonna lost, they're gonna be gone," he said.

He offered a rambling defence against additional funding for the postal service as it braces for a surge in absentee ballot requests during the Covid-19 pandemic, while enduring cuts to personnel and the removal of critically-needed mail sorting machines.

The president referred to the postmaster general as a great businessman but claimed that he didn't "know what he's doing" when asked if Mr DeJoy had been removing sorting machines needed to process high volumes of mail.

"He wants to make the Post Office great again," Mr Trump said.

Protesters had gathered outside Mr DeJoy's home in DC on Saturday following national outcry over steep cuts to the agency and Mr Trump's threats to mail-in ballots ahead of presidential election.

Mr Trump continued to blame Democratic lawmakers for pushing for funds dedicated to supporting election efforts, claiming that Democrats want "a trillion dollars to hand out as welfare".

He began the press conference shortly after 5pm, appearing on a podium next to several large graphs. Reading from pre-prepared notes, the president claimed that US coronavirus cases were decreasing "despite" testing and that the country was "witnessing the fastest economic recovery in American history".

On Friday, there were 1,170 new coronavirus deaths and 59,441 new cases in the US, according to the New York Times. Unemployment fell to 10.2 per cent last month from 11.1 per cent in June but more than 28 million people were receiving some form of unemployment benefit by end of July, according to the Washington Post.

The president also refused on Saturday to denounce a false and racist conspiracy theory against Democratic candidate Kamala Harris' eligibility to serve as vice president or president.

"So, I have nothing to do with that. I read something about it ... it's not something that bothers me," he said, referencing a column written by a conservative attorney who argued that the US Constitution doesn’t grant birthright citizenship. John Eastman sowed doubt about Senator Harris’ eligibility based on her parents’ immigration status. Harris’ mother was born in India and her father was born in Jamaica.

The president is spending a second straight weekend at his New Jersey golf club. On Friday evening, he delivered a speech to a large group of police officers from the New York City Police Benevolent Association at the country club and received their election endorsement.

Wires contributed to this report

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