Former President Barack Obama took on President Donald Trump's administration head-on in a new podcast Thursday, specifically going after the administrations' attempts to stop funding to the U.S. Postal Service. Trump is trying to "actively kneecap" the institution, Obama said, accusing his successor of making it harder for people to vote, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has railed against mail-in voting during the pandemic, even admitting that the USPS would not be able to handle the additional ballots without new funding.
"What we've never seen before is a president say, ‘I'm going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to encourage voting, and I will be explicit about the reason I'm doing it,'" Obama said in the new episode of Campaign HQ with his former campaign manager, David Plouffe. "That's sort of unheard of, right? And we also have not had an election in the midst of a pandemic that is still deadly and killing a lot of people." Obama said he is "most worried" about protecting the integrity of the election, making sure that everyone's votes are counted. "How do we police and monitor how state officials are setting up polling places and ensuring that every vote is counted?" he added.
Everyone depends on the USPS. Seniors for their Social Security, veterans for their prescriptions, small businesses trying to keep their doors open. They can't be collateral damage for an administration more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 14, 2020
Obama's comments referenced Congressional Democrats and Republicans' discussions on the next coronavirus stimulus package. Democrats support a recent proposal by the USPS' Board of Governors to add $25 billion in funding. Trump had been resistant to the idea, but during Thursday's press conference, Trump said he would not veto a funding bill if it did include some assistance to the USPS, reports NBC News. However, he still told reporters, "Again absentee good, universal mail-in bad."
Before Thursday's news conference, Trump told Fox Business that the USPS could not handle the new mail-in ballots without more funding. "They want three and a half-billion dollars for something that'll turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money basically," Trump said. "They want three and a half-billion dollars for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots." He also falsely called mail-in voting "fraudulent."
If you're in a state where you have the option to vote early, do that now. The more votes in early, the less likely you're going to see a last minute crunch, both at polling places and in states where mail-in ballots are permitted. Then tell everyone you know.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 14, 2020
During the podcast with Plouffe, Obama described Trump's policies for the Postal Service as attempts to "starve" it. "You now have the President throwing in this additional monkey wrench trying to starve the postal service," Obama said, reports CNN. "My question is what are Republicans doing where you are so scared of people voting that you are now willing to undermine what is part of the basic infrastructure of American life?"