On Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was caught in a lie during a live interview on CNN. The adviser to President Donald Trump insisted that no mail sorting machines had been taken offline in recent weeks, until anchor Jake Tapper showed him proof. Faced with the evidence, Meadows back-pedaled in real time.
Meadows denied the concerns about the U.S. Postal Service in recent weeks and months, and said that no mail sorting machines had been decommissioned recently, in spite of recent reports. He said that this was a "political narrative" that Democrats were creating to "stoke fear" among American voters. In the midst of the interview, however, Tapper pressed the subject, saying that it was an objective fact that voting machines were being shut down.
“There’s no sorting machines that are going offline between now and the election,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tells @jaketapper while discussing the debate surrounding Postal Service funding. https://t.co/M79UyNK2rI #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/QpgneVGwsx— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 16, 2020
"Get your producer to share where exactly those sorting machines were taken offline," Meadows said. "Let them whisper in your ear because what I'm telling you is you're picking up on a narrative that’s not based on facts."
As it turned out, Tapper and his team did have facts to prove that mail sorting machines had been shut down recently, including confirmation from postal workers themselves. The shut down of these machines was related to the appointment of the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, who was previously a massive donor to the Trump campaign.
Meadows was finally forced to admit that the machines had been shut down, and that he had specific knowledge of them — even as he insisted that Tapper was lying. He then claimed that this was simply "a normal system of changing it out."
Meadows made no explanation for why he lied at the beginning of the interview, and said that he feared this topic would "bore people to death." He said that the bottom line was that "the post office has been losing money for over ten years... This president is serious about fixing it. Louis DeJoy is serious about fixing it."
Tapper raised the point that DeJoy's sudden cuts to the USPS coincided with many states' pivot towards mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. To many analysts, it is no longer a question of whether or not the president is trying to influence the 2020 presidential election through the post office, as he has stated his intentions to do so outright. Meadows reiterated the president's common concern about voter fraud, to which Tapper said: "there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud."
JAKE TAPPER: "There's no evidence of widespread voter fraud."
MARK MEADOWS: "There's no evidence that there's not either." pic.twitter.com/TbBXRPjd9S— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 16, 2020
"There's no evidence that there's not either," Meadows replied.
Political scientist and election experts continue to explain that mail-in voting is as secure as in-person polling. The process has been used for years for absentee ballots, including those used by the U.S. military. President Donald Trump himself has recently requested a mail-in ballot for the 2020 presidential election.