August 25, 2020 2:15 PM, EDT

New York, New Jersey Sue Trump, DeJoy Over USPS Service Changes

Letitia James, New York's attorney general Letitia James, New York's attorney general, speaks at a press conference earlier this month. (Peter Foley/Bloomberg News)

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New York and New Jersey sued President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over major changes to postal service operations that the states fear will hinder mail-in voting during the November election.

The suit, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and joined by New Jersey, Hawaii and the cities of New York and San Francisco, is the latest to allege the Trump administration is attempting to undermine the U.S. Postal Service months before an expected surge in mail-in voting, which the president has frequently claimed without evidence will lead to widespread voter fraud. Two other multistate lawsuits led by Pennsylvania and Washington were filed last week.

James’ suit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., also named the Postal Service as a defendant along with DeJoy and Trump.

“This USPS slowdown is nothing more than a voter suppression tactic,” James said in a statement. “Yet, this time, these authoritarian actions are not only jeopardizing our democracy and fundamental right to vote, but the immediate health and financial well-being of Americans across the nation.”

Trucks at a U.S. Postal Service facility in Elkridge, Md.

Trucks at a Postal Service facility in Elkridge, Md. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News)

The changes — including removal of mailboxes and mail sorting machines, and curtailing of overtime for USPS workers — are in line with Trump’s opposition to mail-in voting and his stated intent to impair delivery of mailed ballots by cutting off USPS resources, James said.

Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer declined to comment on the suit.

James’ suit notes Trump has specifically criticized mail-in voting because he thinks it helps Democrats more than Republicans. There is no evidence that is the case.

All three state lawsuits allege DeJoy made the changes without getting them cleared by the postal regulator or seeking public comment as required by Congress. They seek court orders to bar further changes and to reverse the ones already introduced if possible.

Louis DeJoy testifies Aug. 24 before the House Oversight Committee

DeJoy during Aug. 24 testimony. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Bloomberg News)

In testimony before Congress Aug. 21 and 24, DeJoy denied the changes were meant to interfere with the election, calling that an “outrageous claim” and saying that many of the measures predated his arrival. The longtime Republican donor said last week he would halt any further operational changes until after the election and vowed to allocate additional resources to ensure mail-in ballots are delivered on time.

DeJoy previously owned New Breed Logistics, a longtime Postal Service contractor, and has financial stakes in companies that do business or compete with the agency. New Breed merged with XPO Logistics in 2014, and DeJoy became CEO of XPO’s supply chain business. After he retired in 2015, he became a member of XPO’s board until 2018.

XPO ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 1 on the TT Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies.

DeJoy also distanced himself from Trump by saying mail-in voting was safe. DeJoy’s testimony did little to alleviate concerns among Democrats. Several state attorneys general said his commitment was insufficient because so many changes had already been implemented that could threaten the collection and counting of ballots.

Many more people are expected to vote by mail this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. James and other Democrats have warned that forcing people to vote in person in November would put their health at risk.

“No American should ever have to choose between their health and their constitutional right to vote,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democratic congressman from New York, said in a statement on the suit.

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