As Trump Attempts to Subvert the Constitution and the Election, Democrats Must Go Beyond Handwringing

Interview with Sarah Kendzior, author and co-host of the Gaslit Nation weekly podcast, conducted by Scott Harris

Another shameful chapter in American presidential history is being written by Donald Trump and his cronies. Over the past several weeks, Louis DeJoy, a Trump campaign megadonor recently named postmaster general, ordered the U.S. Postal Service to stop paying carriers and clerks the overtime pay needed to ensure that mail is delivered on time. Then news emerged that DeJoy ordered the decommissioning of 10 percent, or more than 670 of the postal service’s costly mail sorting machines across the country – as well as the removal or locking of an unknown number of mail collection boxes in many cities and towns. The Postal Service, in financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic, had asked for $25 billion in critical funding, which has been blocked by the president and the Republican-controlled Senate.

Trump confirmed criticism  that he was deliberately sabotaging the postal service in order to sow chaos in the November election, when he admitted in a Fox News interview that he wanted to deny funding to the postal service ahead of November so that the postal system won’t be able to handle an influx of mail-in ballots, which he falsely claims will lead to large scale fraud.

Soon after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House back into session from its August recess to reverse recent changes to post office operations and to hold a hearing with Postmaster General LaJoy, the USPS announced it will suspend its removal of mailboxes for 90 days until after the election.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Sarah Kendzior, author of “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America,” and cohost of Gaslit Nation, a weekly podcast. Here she examines the Trump regime’s open sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service to gain partisan advantage in the November election, and assesses the Democratic party’s response to the president’s clear attempt to subvert the U.S. Constitution.

SARAH KENDZIOR: We’ve been under that threat from the moment he declared candidacy. And certainly from the moment he took office, I’ve been worried about the legitimacy of the 2020 election since 2016, because we saw a lot of the same tactics in play then that he’s using now, including domestic voter suppression as a result of the partial repeal of the VRA (Voting Rights Amendment), foreign interference with mostly Russia, but not limited to Russia intervening in our election. Hackable machines. And then of course, the threat of Trump refusing to concede, you know, which was always a threat the whole time. As you said, he tells us his plans. He says he’s not going to leave office. He says that in addition to the next four years, there’s going to be an extra four years. And that, by the way is why he installed Ivanka and Jared into the White House. And, you know, in a clear violation of nepotism rules. So they could create a kleptocratic dynasty and keep this consolidation of power. And this money train, this money laundering through the executive branch going.

And then coronavirus kind of threw a wrench in those plans because we were switching from electronic voting, which is less secure, to voting by mail and paper ballots are much more secure. So, of course, the next move is going to be attack the Postal Service when he couldn’t delegitimize voting by mail, by calling it voter fraud, which is something that, you know, they’ve been doing all along. They went for the institution itself. They installed a Trump lackey, megadonor Louis DeJoy. He then did a postal service purge and fired 23 senior officials for whatever reasons. We’ve all seen the pictures of trucks loaded up with mailboxes. We’ve all been struggling to even get our mail.

People been struggling to get food, to get medication. You know, the voting problem is part of a broader assault on the American public by denying them a pivotal service in a beloved institution an institution that has a 91 percent positive approval rating. So you could see right there, this is not a person who is trying to win an election. This is a person who’s trying to steal an election. Someone who wants to win would not attempt to alienate and sicken and sabotage the public in the way that he’s doing now. And in the way that he’s done for the last four years.

SCOTT HARRIS: Sarah, one thing that’s very concerning is — in the estimation of many — the Democrats’ weak response to this direct attack on subverting, the Constitution and the November election. We had the Democrats inviting the postmaster general, the Trump megadonor Louis DeJoy, to appear before a House hearing. They’re coming back into session, which is, I guess, something because they’re taking some time away from their recess. But in general, the Democrats are not getting high marks for an aggressive response to the Trump regime’s attack on the U.S. Constitution. What are your thoughts on that?

SARAH KENDZIOR: Yes. The Democrats have been extremely disappointing, but I want to emphasize that they’re not a monolith. You know, there have been some that have been trying from the start to stop what they recognize as a kleptocratic, autocratic threat to our country from within. They saw this properly as a national security threat and public safety threat. These Democrats initially were stymied by the fact that they didn’t have the Senate or the House. But then once they took the House, the ones who actually wanted to do something productive, like impeach him on a large number of counts, impeach him for the full scope of his crimes, use the Mueller report. Or recently use things like inherent contempt that force people to show up for subpoenas. And if they decide that they’re not going to show up, they actually face penalties, fines, punishment, imprisonment. They wanted to use the power of the purse.

They have all been stopped by Nancy Pelosi and others in the House leadership. And she has essentially been acting as Trump’s accomplice. And certainly as somebody who appeases him from the beginning back in March 2019, I will never forget this where she said, she’ll never impeach him no matter what he does, because “he’s not worth it.”

And to me, that was basically her saying the American people aren’t worth it. His assault on the American people is not worth it. Our country isn’t worth it. It’s a baffling position. It’s one that seems to be very unpopular among Democratic representatives themselves because over the past week, I think in response to their own constituencies, they’ve become very vocal. They’ve been calling for Congress to return. They’ve been calling for hearings. They’ve been calling for more assertive action. But just like with impeachment, she had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to serve her country. You know, her response was to tell Americans to give their mailman a flower. Like I can’t believe we’re staring down the gun of fascism and that is her response. But, you know, it’s criminal and I’m just glad that there are some Democrats out there who really are trying hard and are trying to do the right thing. And, you know, are fighting a very difficult fight, not just against a criminal Republican party abetted by a complacent Democratic one, which, you know, in the end yields the same result.

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