President Donald Trump has defended the US Postal Service chief who is at the centre of an escalating row over allegations of electoral interference ahead of November’s election.
The service has found itself in a political battle after admitting it would not be able to guarantee that all postal votes – known as mail-in ballots in the US – will arrive at counts on time, even if they are sent by state deadlines.
It could mean that millions of voters will lose their voice in this year’s presidential election, which has been made more difficult to run as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trumphas consistently denied extra funding for the service ahead of the 3 November poll, where many people may avoid voting in person at the ballot box amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Mail-in voting is common place in the US. But the president has been unwilling to make a deal with Democrats that included more money for the agency.
His opposition appears to be linked to his, largely unsubstantiated, claims that mail-in voting is an opportunity for fraud and election interference.
However, some Democrats have accused him of deliberate voter suppression, claiming Mr Trump wants to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.
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At a news conference on Saturday night, he defended the Postmaster General, Republican donor Louis DeJoy, saying he was trying to “streamline” the service and “make it great again”.
Shortly afterwards, it was reported the Democrat house speaker Nancy Pelosi was considering bringing representatives back to Washington DC to discuss the crisis in the Postal Service.
Ms Pelosi previously said that Mr Trump was waging an “all-out assault” on the service in the run-up to the election.
Earlier in the week on Fox News, the president admitted his opposition to additional funding would deprive the agency of cash that Democrats say it needs to process an expected surge in mail-in ballots amid the pandemic.
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He said: “They want $25bn (£18.7bn) 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.
“Now in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
“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,” Mr Trump added. “They just can’t have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing.”
Despite his frequent attacks on the postal service, Mr Trump and his wife Melania have both applied for mail-in ballots in Florida, where they have a home.
The Postal Service is seen as being underfunded and understaffed, and has not made any money since 2007. It receives no taxpayer funding, relying almost wholly on sales from stamps and its services.