WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump said Thursday he opposed emergency funding for election operations and the Postal Service because it could allow more people to vote by mail.
"They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money basically," Trump said of congressional Democrats. "They want $25 billion, billion, for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots."
Speaking on the Fox Business Network, the president was more direct than he or his advisers had been previously about the reason for his opposition to assistance for the Postal Service, which has seen existing revenue challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's the latest sign that talks on a new relief package are not moving any time soon.
Trump often complains about the Postal Service's shipping rates for packages, particularly for large shippers like Amazon.
"You know, there's nothing wrong with getting out and voting; you get out and vote. They voted during World War I and World War II, and they should have voter ID, because the Democrats scammed the system," Trump said. "But, two of the items are the post office and the $3.5 billion for mail-in voting."
The Democratic National Committee was quick to respond to the president's comments.
"Donald Trump admitted that he is deliberately sabotaging the Post Office because he thinks it will help boost his reelection," DNC senior spokesperson and adviser Lily Adams said in a statement. "Trump is taking money the Post Office needs and holding up coronavirus relief for millions of struggling Americans and small businesses because he wants to try to stop more voters from voting safely in a pandemic."
Significant funding for both elections and the Postal Service have been regular asks of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer in the stalled discussions over the next coronavirus relief package.
"Now, if we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail-in voting, they just can't have it," Trump said Thursday.
"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 -- a crisis so devastatingly worsened by his own failed leadership that we are now the hardest hit country in the world by the coronavirus pandemic," Andrew Bates, the rapid response director for former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign, said in a statement in response.
Bates noted that the Trump campaign itself has been encouraging the president's supporters to vote by mail. The president sometimes praises absentee voting while opposing mail-in voting, though in many jurisdictions that can be a distinction without a difference.
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