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House committee to subpoena postmaster general for ‘withholding’ documents from Congress

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A key House committee plans to subpoena Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Wednesday, over documents its chairwoman said DeJoy “has been withholding from Congress,” the committee said Monday.

During DeJoy’s testimony last week, the Committee on Oversight and Reform requested documents on the changes made to the postal service that caused widespread delays across the country by August 26. According to a statement from the committee, no documents were produced and two days after the deadline, DeJoy sent a letter to the committee that said, “I trust my August 24 testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Reform clarified any outstanding questions you had.”

A committee source said Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney plans to serve the subpoena on Wednesday, 48 hours after sharing it with the Republican members, based on former Chairman Elijah Cummings’ agreement to provide time for consultation with the Ranking Member.

The planned subpoena represents an escalation in the ongoing battle between Democrats and DeJoy as the party seeks to ensure access to mail-in voting for as many Americans as possible amid the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple House Democrats have called for the resignation or removal of DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump.

Later Monday, the Postal Service released a letter and service performance charts from the postmaster general to the committee. The charts provided answers to some of the committees questions service delays, and DeJoy noted that performance has begun to improve. DeJoy said he would not be able to provide accurate data on the delivery of ballots, but did provide information on the performance of election mail.

In a statement responding to the subpoena, the Postal Service said that the agency had been working with committee staff, including holding discussion post-hearing over “any outstanding requests and new requests from the hearing, and to make arrangements” to produce whatever information “in an orderly fashion.”

The Postal Service added that they intended to comply with legal obligations regarding the subpoena but said “given the straightforward and cooperative nature of these communications with the Committee staff, we were frankly surprised and confused by Chairwoman Maloney’s statement today about her intent to issue a subpoena to the Postal Service.”

According to the statement from the committee, the committee is also sending a letter to Robert Duncan, the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, who testified before the panel last week with DeJoy, about documents it says the Board is withholding by citing a DOJ opinion claiming FOIA prohibits the information from being disclosed to a member of Congress who is not the chair of a committee.

Maloney is writing the Board for all the documents and information requested by other members and notifies the Board that she will issue a subpoena if they are not produced voluntarily.

During last week’s hearing, DeJoy defended his performance as postmaster general, downplaying the changes he made and saying he was focused on stopping the postal service losing money.

In his testimony, DeJoy acknowledged that a “deterioration in service” had occurred following changes to mail trucks taking additional trips, but he said the USPS was already seeing a bounce-back. And he argued that other changes, like the removal of mail-processing machines, were already happening before he took over in June.

Duncan, meanwhile, defended the board’s appointment of DeJoy during his testimony last week, saying DeJoy was unanimously selected following a rigorous selection process.

“There must be dramatic changes if the Postal Service is to succeed. Mr. DeJoy was selected to be that transformational leader, who can help strengthen the Postal Service for the long term,” Duncan said.

Though Trump has repeatedly pushed false claims that foreign adversaries are targeting mail ballots as part of a “rigged” presidential race, US officials charged with protecting the 2020 election said last week that they have “no information or intelligence” that foreign countries, including Russia, are attempting to undermine any part of the mail-in voting process.



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