Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 10/7/2020 – Both Sides Now

Today I’m covering the stories you may have missed in the slurry of Covid-19 news but I want to address last week’s debate. The reaction I saw from independents and moderate conservatives was largely the same – this is awful and both candidates are awful.

Argumentum ad temperantiam. It’s one of the basic logical fallacies you learn when you study such things. There are several names and it’s related to several other fallacies, but essentially it’s the argument that when presented with two opposing ideas, the truth is in the middle of them. If two people argue the location of the US capital, with one person saying DC and another saying Los Angeles, surely the answer must be somewhere in the midwest. This tendency of us to average viewpoints is so strong it’s used in marketing – offer three options when you want to increase demand for the middle option. You will sell more than if you only offered that one option.

You see this everywhere in politics, especially in political journalism. It’s what leads to the “both parties are basically the same mindset.”

And it’s absolutely, demonstrably wrong.

Trump was at his most unhinged during the debate. He lied constantly. He delved into multiple conspiracy theories. He showed absolutely no understanding of the issues or even what a president does. He remains ignorant and incompetent, just as he has been his entire life. Biden made one factual error that I’ve seen, which was a trade statistic that was true in 2019. He had supported stances, which are fleshed out on his website. There was absolutely no comparison between the two. But our brains want to insist things are normal. So when they see Trump’s blathering insanity, we rationalize it by assuming both candidates are this way.

They are not. Trump is vile and cruel. Biden is one of the most empathetic candidates in history. Trump remains woefully unqualified for his office. Biden, like Clinton before him, was eminently qualified.

Enough with the “both sides” talk. You aren’t choosing between two sides of the same coin. You’re choosing between a monster and a good man.

News has nearly 24-7 been focused on Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis so here are some stories you may have missed over the last week:

The Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who lied about his resume specifically regarding intelligence experience, is declassifying documents about Clinton and the Russia investigation. The argument here is that Hillary Clinton blamed Russia for hacking her and working with Trump which led to the entire Russia investigation. The source in one of the releases we’ve seen so far? Russian intelligence. Our own intelligence community rejected this obviously fake information as obviously fake information. But Republicans are running with it, saying there would have been no investigation were it not for Clinton’s scheming. It is not possible to understate how ridiculous this is. While I don’t think this will play any factor at all in the election, the Republican Party is spreading KNOWN Russia disinformation to attack Hillary Clinton four years after she lost the election. Vote accordingly.

The White House was pressuring the CDC to downplay the risks of sending children to school during the pandemic. There have been numerous stories confirming the White House has been interfering with the scientific conclusions of the CDC. Dr. William Foege, a previous CDC director, privately wrote current CDC Director Robert Redfield urging him to resign due to his lack of pushback against Trump’s anti-science views.

Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale is allegedly cooperating with an investigation into the campaign’s finances. Parscale himself has been accused of embezzlement and domestic violence.

Federal law enforcement officers were directed to speak sympathetically of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of murdering two people at a protest.

Trump’s former National Security Adviser General McMaster has said the president is aiding and abetting Putin’s efforts to undermine the election.

Michael Flynn’s lawyer retweeted someone saying Trump was intentionally infected with the coronavirus in response to Justice Ginsburg’s death.

Trump said he has declassified all of the documents related to the Russia investigation. He did the exact same thing two years ago. After the first declaration, journalists requested the documents which they have a legal right to. The Department of Justice argued that the president tweeting he had declassified a document did not mean that the president had declassified a document. Undoubtedly, that will happen again. When Trump says he has declassified these documents, he is lying.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 9/28/2020

A federal judge recently ordered that the census could not move their deadline for collecting data from October 31 to September 30. Response rates are still low, exacerbated by the pandemic. Commerce Secretary Ross wanted to end collection efforts at the end of this month, despite the fact that we know a large number of people have not yet responded. Today the Census Bureau announced they want to stop collecting on October 5. There is a technicality here the Commerce Department may be relying on in that the original order merely undid moving the deadline to September 30. The judge ordered the Commerce Department to explain what happened here and one government lawyer said there was no paper trail and the tweet announcing the change was the only thing written about the new policy. It’s unlikely the judge finds this acceptable, but watch this space.

The defense team for Michael Flynn submitted documents which were altered. The documents in question were memos from Peter Strzok and they had handwritten dates that were added and/or changed. (Strzok produced the original documents for comparison.) Flynn’s lawyers may not be the ones who changed the memos, but they were definitely altered by someone.

Twitter has added yet another disclaimer to one of the president’s tweets attacking mail-in voting. He said that mail-in ballots cannot accurately be counted. This is a lie. There are multiple states where mail-in ballots are the ONLY way to vote and they have been conducting their elections without issue for years. The primary source for attacking the integrity of the US election is the president.

CDC Director Redfield was overheard on the phone saying of White House coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas, “everything he says is false.” Redfield admitted to the statement. Dr. Atlas, who has zero experience in virology, epidemiology, or public health, has largely replaced Drs. Fauci and Birx at meetings and in public appearances of the task force. Atlas has pushed for removing Covid-19 restrictions and using herd immunity to stop the spread of the virus instead. Waiting for herd immunity will result in millions of deaths. Atlas has falsely claimed that children are not affected by the virus, among other lies.

The Trump campaign and its surrogates accused Hunter Biden of receiving $3.5 million from Yelena Baturina, the wife of former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. Hunter Biden’s connection to the company is in dispute (a Biden lawyer said Hunter had nothing to do with the company’s founding) but regardless of that, there’s an issue that keeps coming up in the Trump smears of Hunter Biden. The COMPANY received $3.5 billion. Hunter Biden did not. When there isn’t a pandemic, I work for a large multi-billion dollar corporation. When that company receives money, an entire zero dollars of that goes to me personally. (I’ve been looking into changing that but so far the board has not expressed interest.) As every accusation Donald Trump makes about someone turns out to actually be something he’s done, Trump tried to develop properties in Moscow working with Luzhkov in the 90s. This is yet another business relationship Trump was pursuing in Russia without disclosing anything about it.

Channel 4 News in the UK (a publicly owned station separate from the BBC) got ahold of a database from the 2016 Trump campaign. 3.5 million African American voters are labeled as “deterrence.” (The label was not solely used for black voters.) Brad Parscale, who ran the 2016 digital operation, testified before congress that the campaign never targeted African Americans. That appears to have been a lie. Ads ran to discourage black voter turnout.

The New York Times has received several years’ worth of the president’s taxes. I want to note that almost immediately, right wingers began circulating that publishing this data or even possessing it is a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974. This isn’t true. The act criminalizing releasing certain private records. That only applies to a government agent releasing the records. The article does not identify the source – it may be any number of people from outside the government. Even if this did come directly from someone at the IRS, that employee committed a crime, but the New York Times has not. Issues like this have long since been settled law thanks to The Pentagon Papers case.

As to the meat of the article, it reveals several details about the president’s financial situation:

  • In 11 out of 18 years, the president paid zero federal income tax. In two of those years, he paid $750. Trump in the past has attacked Romney and Obama for their effective tax rates which we now know are orders of magnitude higher than Trump’s.
  • Nearly every business the president owns is losing a gargantuan amount of money.
  • The president is receiving a large amount of money from foreign sources, including foreign governments.
  • He has roughly half a billion in personally backed loans coming due in the next two years. His income stream does not support any ability to pay these loans. Every commercial bank but Deutsche Bank has refused to loan Trump any money for some time now. The commercial division at DB flagged him as a risk and stopped giving him loans. The personal division at DB flagged him as a risk but continued to loan him money, despite his default on a $600+ million loan from the bank. We do not currently know why DB overrode their own internal process saying not to loan money to Trump. The bank has recently been found guilty of laundering $20 billion for sanctioned Russian entities.
  • Trump used numerous questionable and outright illegal deductions. He deducted $750,000 in consulting fees paid to Ivanka while she was an employee of the company. He deducted the legal expenses incurred by Donald Trump Jr during the Mueller investigation. (Jr’s role in the Mueller investigation was solely related to his campaign activities and therefore cannot be deducted.)

In summation, the president typically pays almost nothing in federal income taxes, is likely using illegal deductions, has large business entanglements with foreign countries, and is massively in debt with no revenue to repay those debts and no banks willing to refinance it.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 9/26/2020

President Trump said that the story that Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she didn’t want him replacing her was a hoax that came from Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or Adam Schiff. The source for the story is Ginsburg’s granddaughter who was the person Ginsburg told this to. Trump called a family member of Ginsburg’s a liar days after her death.

A pseudonymous columnist at Redstate wrote several columns attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying there should never have been a lockdown or any need for mask wearing. The author implied Fauci and other health officials speaking about the pandemic were Nazis. As it turns out the author is Bill Crews. Mr. Crews worked in the public relations department at NIAID, the government organization headed by Fauci. Needless to say, Mr. Crews has stepped down.

In a new book from Andrew Weissmann, the former Mueller prosecutor claims the team shied away from examining Trump’s finances out of fear of angering the president. Among other allegations, Weissmann implies that Donald Trump Jr. pleaded the fifth amendment during the investigation.

The CIA has issued a report that Russia is likely directing an operation aimed at discrediting Biden. This report confirms another intelligence report recently published saying Andrii Derkach is the vector being used by Russia to spread disinformation. Derkach is a source for both Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who recently concluded his investigation into the Bidens. (The report showed nothing at all of consequence regarding the Bidens.) The CIA has been trying to keep intelligence about Russia away from the White House because Trump gets upset when he hears about Russia trying to aid his re-election.

I rarely just quote a headline, but I think it suffices here: “Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks and swabs to make jet engine parts and body armor.”

Multiple times this week Trump spoke about how “beautiful” it was when MSNBC reporter Ali Velshi was hit by a rubber bullet by police. The crowd in each instance has cheered Trump promoting violence against the press.

The CDC earlier this year responded to a severe Covid-19 outbreak in a South Dakota meat packing plant by issuing a report containing a large number of safety measures that needed to be implemented. Within a day, the report was altered so that every directive was qualified with a clause saying it should only be followed if it could be easily done. The changes came from CDC Director Redfield’s office.

Trump was on stage when word reached his campaign that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. His staff didn’t inform him because they were worried the crowd would cheer her death.

Eric Trump was ordered to testify in the criminal investigation of the Trump Organization. Eric responded that he would testify only after the election. Witnesses do not get to dictate to prosecutors the timeline of their cooperation. A judge has ruled Eric Trump must give his deposition on October 7 as ordered.

Twice this week, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election. During one response, he said that the election depends on whether Republicans can get enough mail-in ballots thrown out.

After years of saying he would unveil his health care plan “soon” or “within two weeks,” Trump announced an executive order on health care. The pillars include adding more choice, lowering costs, and protecting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Rather I should say the pillars say those are things we should do. The plan does not have any mechanisms for achieving these goals. Pre-existing condition coverage is CURRENTLY mandated by law. The Trump administration is suing to reverse that as we speak.

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Trump Daily 9/19/2020 – In Other News

Wiser people are publishing about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg so I won’t be focusing on that here. Virtually no one has had a larger effect on US law and this is obviously now an election issue, but the news cycle doesn’t stop so here are the other stories from the week:

  • Another woman has publicly accused the president of sexual assault. Amy Dorris says Trump forced his tongue into her mouth and groped “my butt, my breasts, my back, everything.” There are credible witnesses saying Dorris told them about the assault when it happened. Dozens of women have accused Trump of sexual assault of various forms up to and including rape. Trump himself bragged about walking in on his underage pageant contestants while they were nude and getting away with it.
  • The president continues to insist the vaccine will be available in a short period of time, this time saying 4-8 weeks. This is a lie.

The atrocities predicted when Trump withdrew US forces from Syria’s border with Turkey happened as predicted – rape, torture, looting, and hostage-taking done by Turkish backed forces.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 9/12/2020 – Woodward Again

When Bob Woodward published his first book on the incompetence of Donald Trump, the president was upset his staff kept him from being interviewed as he thought he would come across very well had Woodward spoken to him. For the soon-to-be-published second book, Woodward interviewed Trump 17 times and recorded the conversations. In early February, Trump told Woodward the coronavirus was more deadly than the flu and that he wanted to publicly downplay the risk posed by the pandemic. Trump lied to the public about the dangers of the virus and the White House is now spinning this as preventing panic, with Trump comparing himself to Winston Churchill during WW2. (Churchill notably never lied about the Nazi threat.) The book has several other more minor revelations – that DNI Coats warned Trump Devin Nunes was feeding him disinformation and that “his generals” were “pussies” for caring more about American alliances than trade deals.

In a series of court losses, a court is blocking the Trump administration’s efforts to end census collection efforts earlier than scheduled while a different court is blocking Trump’s effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census.

The Department of Justice is seeking to take over Trump’s defense in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against Trump. Carroll is suing the president for calling her a liar when she said he raped her. This echoes the civil suit brought by Summer Zervos against Trump. DoJ is arguing that Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he said Carroll was “not my type.” (This is absurd.) The express purpose of DoJ taking over the case is to have it dismissed due to sovereign immunity. You may sue Donald Trump for defamation, but not the US government. In summation, the federal government is trying to protect the president in a case hinging on whether or not he raped a woman.

A DHS whistleblower has filed a complaint alleging they were ordered to suppress or change intelligence regarding Russian election interference in order to avoid making the president look bad. Additionally, they say then DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen repeatedly lied about terrorists apprehended at the border while Ken Cuccinelli had them alter data on Central American countries to make them appear safe so as to avoid awarding asylum status to immigrants from those countries. Both Cuccinelli and Chad Wolf had them alter data to downplay the threat of white supremacist groups while inflating the danger from left wing groups such as antifa. Along these lines, Miles Taylor, an ex-DHS official, says that after a top intelligence official testified that Russia had worked to help elect Trump, Trump tried to have that official fired.

Michael Caputo is a Twitter troll who previously worked for The Kremlin and then a Russian PR firm where he worked on improving Putin’s image. He makes a short appearance in the Mueller report, arranging a meeting between Roger Stone and a man promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. In short, Caputo is shady as hell. He’s now the Public Affairs Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services. Not only has Caputo been trying to muffle Dr. Anthony Fauci, but he has been directing the alteration of CDC data on the virus in order to support the president. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports have had an impeccable reputation for accuracy until now. The Trump administration is now changing scientific reports in order to downplay the threat of the pandemic.

The US Treasury Department announced sanctions against Ukrainian Andriy Derkach for his interference in the election. Derkach is the primary source for Senator Ron Johnson’s sham investigation into the company Hunter Biden worked for and met with Rudy Giulani about the Bidens. Derkach is a key element in Putin’s disinformation campaign.

The third-party judge appointed in the Michael Flynn case to render an opinion on how to move forward has done so. Judge John Gleeson determined that the Department of Justice effort to have the Flynn cased dismissed is not only full of error, but nothing more than a pressure campaign from the government to help the president. He openly called AG Barr’s efforts to dismiss the case corrupt.

Colorado, just tonight, won a restraining order against the US Postal Service. The USPS is sending out postcards to every home and PO Box in the nation with instructions on voting by mail. But they’re sending the SAME instructions to every state despite a wide variance in the process. While the cards are accurate in some states, they are incredibly wrong in several states. The cards contain instructions on how to request a mail ballot – which isn’t even possible in every state. Several Secretaries of State asked Postmaster Dejoy to review the cards before mailing. He refused and now the Postal Service is sending incorrect voting information to millions of voters.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 9/5/2020 – Weekend Catch-up

  • The president posted statistics from a Qanon supporter about Covid-19 not being nearly as much of a threat because most people who die from Covid-19 have other causes of death listed. Twitter took the Tweet down. This has become a common talking point of the right. It’s true that few death certificates list only Covid-19 as the cause of death. But that’s normal. Most death certificates list multiple causes. Aside from common comorbidities, often someone who dies from Covid-19 will have ailments CAUSED by the virus listed on their death certificate. It’s common for a death certificate to list both Covid-19 and ARDS. ARDS is the respiratory disorder caused by Covid-19.
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Trump’s Contempt for the Miltary

Multiple news outlets are confirming this story.

Trump canceled a visit to a WWI cemetery because he didn’t want his hair to get wet. He said the cemetery was “filled with losers.”

He said a group of 1,800 marines killed in action were “suckers” for… getting killed in action.

He asked who “the good guys” were in WWI and didn’t understand why America fought on the side of Great Britain and France, the latter being the oldest American ally on the planet.

He often refers to POWs and shot down pilots as “losers,” including George HW Bush.

While standing next to the grave of John Kelly’s son, who was killed in Afghanistan, he asked “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

While planning a military parade, Trump asked that amputees not be included because “nobody wants to see that.”

“Trump finds the notion of military service difficult to understand, and the idea of volunteering to serve especially incomprehensible.”
This is the monster some of you chose to lead us.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/09/trump-americans-who-died-at-war-are-losers-and-suckers/615997/


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Trump Daily – The GOP Convention

This year’s convention was, unsurprisingly, a parade of lies, fear-mongering, and egregious violations of ethics and law. Bizarrely, a primary theme was pointing towards current civil unrest and saying this is what America will look like under a Biden presidency. Students for Trump today tweeted out Trump touring a destroyed area labeling it “what Biden will do to America” which is peculiar as it happened while Donald Trump was president.

There is too much content to cover everything, but I want to hit on a few particular areas. Let’s look at some of the speakers chosen to represent the Republican Party:

  • Mary Ann Mendoza lost her son in a car crash involving an undocumented immigrant. She was scheduled to speak on the first night. Hours before the convention began, Mendoza tweeted out a thread touting the conspiracy theory that rich Jews were secretly in charge of, well, everything, and were using this influence to exterminate gentiles. The tweet promoted an infamous document about Jews controlling everything which was fabricated over a century ago. It also promoted Qanon, the conspiracy theory that Democrats are leading a massive Satanic cannibal child sex trafficking ring which Donald Trump will be exposing any day now with the help of Robert Mueller and JFK Jr, who faked his own death. A sizable portion of Republicans believe in Q. This one was invited to the convention. They pulled her spot after this tweet, but Mendoza has been tweeting out similar content for years. They either did not bother checking up on her in any way or they didn’t care.
  • Natalie Harp had a rare bone cancer and spoke about her treatment only being available because of the Right to Try law signed by Trump which opens up experimental treatments for terminally ill patients. She’s been lying about this for years. Firstly, the treatment she received was an off-label use for an approved drug. That’s been legal for decades. But in case that’s questionable, Harp’s treatment took place BEFORE Trump signed the Right to Try law.

Multiple people who participated in the convention were either lied to about their appearances or misled.

In an egregious ethical breach, the convention included a naturalization ceremony at the White House (more on this later). The participants in the ceremony were not informed their naturalization would be part of the GOP convention. Donald Trump usurped their moment for his own political gain. Lynne Patton, who planned Eric Trump’s wedding before landing a job she wasn’t qualified for at HUD, interviewed several public housing residents about their homes. The piece was one of several with minorities expressing support for Donald Trump. They weren’t told their interviews would be used for the convention or to support Trump. Several of the interviewees are furious, with one openly calling Trump a racist.

There were too many lies to cover here. Daniel Dale is a fastidious fact checker and I’d point you to his articles about the convention: night one, night two, night three, and night four. We saw lies about nearly every topic: the pandemic, the economy, Biden’s views on policing, the Veterans Choice Act (Trump has lied about signing this over 150 times. Obama signed it), immigration, mail-in voting, etc…

The Hatch Act is a 1939 law with a simple goal – preventing executive branch employees from campaigning and preventing government resources form being used to campaign. (I’ll note here that this applies to employees using THEIR OFFICE to campaign. There is nothing wrong with the Secretary of Energy giving a speech supporting a candidate. It’s wrong for them to do so at an agency meeting.) The goal here is a simple one. The federal government belongs to us. The office of the president belongs to us. The White House belongs to us. These things represent the entire United States and should not be used to support one political party. The Trump administration has constantly violated the Hatch Act, but we haven’t seen anything on the level we saw last week in American history. Several convention videos were filmed from The White House. The acting head of DHS conducted a naturalization ceremony from The White House, without informing the participants they were going to be part of the convention. The Secretary of State, after instructing State Department employees to not participate in the conventions, appeared from Israel in the middle of an official trip, on our dime. The South Lawn of the White House was where Trump formally accepted the nomination, with his name on massive signs on either side of the White House. And then to end the night, fireworks appeared over the Washington Monument, spelling “Trump” and “2020.” These properties are not his. They were not his to use. They are OURS. But Donald Trump does not care about any of this. The concept of public ownership doesn’t register with him. He decided the optics of using the National Mall to help his re-election worked so there was no consideration of the ethical violation of all of this.

Finally to illustrate there are no depths as to the pettiness of the Republican Party, the convention asked Leonard Cohen’s estate to use Hallelujah during the closing of the convention. They were refused. They used the song anyway.

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Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 8/27/2020 – Catching Up Before the Final Convention Night

Doing one large write-up on the convention so here’s the other news you may have missed.

The Daily Beast detailed the relationship between Jared Kushner and Kirill Dmitriev who runs Russia’s sovereign wealth fund. Dmitriev will be familiar to you if you followed my coverage of the Mueller report. He set up covert meetings with Kushner and Erik Prince despite being under sanction by the United States. One of the earliest shipments of ventilators Kushner secured came from Dmitriev. They were never used as they were junk.

Trump has frequently warned of foreign governments somehow hacking mail-in voting. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has seen no evidence of this. Such large scale vote manipulation is functionally impossible because of how the US election system is run.

The NY Attorney General’s Office has detailed their investigation into The Trump Organization and it’s as we thought – they’re investing the group for lying about the value of properties both to banks and for tax purposes. Michael Cohen testified this was happening before Congress and the financial documents provided by Mary Trump to the New York Times proved it. Eric Trump is not cooperating with the investigation and his lawyer has alluded to him pleading the 5th amendment.

The Trump campaign released a fairly generic video about what a great job he’s done. All of the images used in the video are from stock footage. They just released another ad about how violent protests are across the country. The footage used for this ad is from Spain.

Per the former Chief of Staff at DHS, Trump was seeking ways to maim and injure immigrants at the border. DHS and CBP later considered using a microwave weapon which induces the feeling of your skin burning off. (This is a real device built by Raytheon though it has never been used.)

The CDC changed their guidelines to say people who have been directly exposed to someone with the virus do not need to be tested. This is a blatant attempt to decrease the number of reported cases before the election. The Covid-19 task force waited until Dr. Fauci was having surgery to discuss the change. Dr. Redfield partially walked back this change, but his statement no longer appears on the CDC website. This change came because of pressure from The White House.

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And WHAT is the DEAL with the Post Office?

The Trump era has been a daily exercise in media literacy. One of the challenges has been sorting through negative information about the administration to determine what is true vs what is untrue as well as what things are disturbing, but also mundane. Several times now a negative story has circulated which has been troubling, but also something common to most recent presidencies. Going to go over some of what I’ve seen about the USPS and which parts are genuinely troubling and which parts are not.

An image of a large number of stacked post office boxes behind a fence went viral as evidence of the Post Office taking boxes off the street in Wisconsin. This image IS of post office boxes stacked at a company. And they were stacked there because that company refurbishes and refinishes Post Office boxes before returning them back into use. In other words, this was completely innocent and routine.

Now have there been collection boxes removed? Yes, absolutely. However, that too is routine. As population density shifts, the USPS removes boxes from low use locations and moves them to higher use areas, or removes them all-together when the need for a drop-off location lowers. DeJoy has said this process, though routine, has been halted until after the election. There MAY have been nefarious intent in some of these removals, but that would be nearly impossible to prove as having removals happening is routine.

Has USPS been removing sorting capacity to target swing states? Not at all. They HAVE been removing sorting machines. DeJoy’s defense is that these are simply not needed. He is, at least in part, correct. Lost in this discussion is the fact that mail volume has been steadily decreasing for decades, at least for flat mail. (Packages are a different beast but also do not run through these sorting machines). With email the norm for most people and billing for nearly everything going online, flat mail simply isn’t used as much. So there is justification for reducing sorting volume. HOWEVER postal employees across the country have said these cuts are too deep. Though DeJoy halted the removal of the machines, the USPS director of maintenance ordered facilities nationwide to not reconnect any of them. In Seattle and Dallas so far, postal workers are ignoring that directive and reconnecting decommissioned machines.

As for targeting states specifically for removal, absolutely no, that isn’t happening. There is a strong correlation between the number of machines removed and Democrats living in the area they were removed from. But there’s a reason for that – urban population centers are where Democrats live. Quite simply, more machines have been removed from large cities because there were more machines in those large cities to begin with.

Has the mail slowed down because of DeJoy’s changes? YES. Absolutely yes. DeJoy testified this week and the metric he continually cited was the number of USPS trucks leaving on time. This is a great metric for measuring costs if you’re a first year business student. It’s a terrible metric for measuring efficiency. Why? Because they’ve achieved the goal of having more trucks leave on time but sending them out without some of their mail. That mail then gets to sit and wait for another truck instead of a slight delay and sending the truck out at capacity. The delays are real and they’re causing problems, like animals dying and medication facing long delays. There are Republicans in Congress arguing there are no delays and this is a conspiracy theory. Per the USPS’s own internal documents, they’re wrong.

How much of what’s happened has been done intentionally to alter the election? Here’s the answer no one will like – it isn’t possible to tell. Does Trump want to limit mail-in voting? Of course he does. He’s been running a one man marketing campaign against it all year, yelling about non-existent fraud and insisting absentee voting and mail-in voting are different things. They are not. But it isn’t clear how many of the USPS changes are being done intentionally with that goal vs being done because of incompetent management. And ultimately, we aren’t likely to know.

So Trump and the GOP aren’t taking direct action to limit mail-in voting? Oh, they are! While we can’t be sure if the USPS changes happening are due to this, the Trump campaign and the Republicans have filed lawsuits in multiple states to limit mail-in voting. This follows a long history of Republicans attempting to limit the number of people voting. What’s peculiar though is there isn’t actually any evidence that increased mail-in voting helps Democrats. In several key states, the party realizes this and has to push back against Trump’s attacks on the process. Florida comes to mind where the senior citizen vote, a huge mail-in voting bloc, is key to any Republican victory.

How is this going to affect the election? If you have a definitive answer for this, could I get some lotto numbers from you? The USPS sent a letter to nearly every state warning that the current slowdowns could potentially mean votes not being counted before local deadlines. However, several states are reacting to that by altering their deadlines and procedures. The House just today passed a bill to shore up the postal service’s funding and roll back several of the delay causing changes DeJoy implemented.

Has USPS been hiding the extent of the problem? Yep. Multiple stories now about sorting centers hiding how bad things are from Congressman. This may not matter at this point as the House investigation has hard data on how bad the delays have been.

In summation are there changes happening at USPS which can affect the election? Yes. Does the president want mail-in voting limited? Yes. Are the changes being done intentionally to harm the election? That’s difficult to say either way. Are actions being taken to remedy these issues? Yes.

What should you do? This one’s easy. Check your registration. If you message Resistbot on Facebook “check registration,” the bot will look you up and walk you through registering if you aren’t. If you’re voting by mail, request your ballot (if required) AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE and return it as early as possible.

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