Ex-Postal Service official: White House involved in slowing mail

The former Vice Chairman of the Postal Board of Governors testified Thursday that the Trump administration has been "politicizing" the Postal Service and using Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to inappropriately influence the organization for political ends that will eventually harm the customers and businesses the Postal Service is supposed to serve.

David Williams, former USPS Inspector General and former Vice Chair of the USPS Board of Governors, testified before the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Thursday that he resigned "when it became clear to me that the administration was politicizing the Postal Service with the treasury secretary as the lead figure for the White House in that effort."

By statute, Mnuchin as treasury secretary is responsible for providing the Postal Service with a line of credit, Williams testified. But Mnuchin "was using that responsibility to make demands that I believed would turn the Postal Service into a political tool, ending its long history as an apolitical public infrastructure."

Mr. Trump has long bashed the Postal Service, and he alleges the agency allows companies like Amazon to take advantage of it.

"Clearly the president was determined that the Postal Service should inflict harm on Amazon delivery by sharply raising parcel shipping prices on everyone by 400% or more," Williams testified. "On the way to attacking a political foe, I was concerned that American citizens would feel the shock of the price increase and that American supply chains would lose much of their value, harming businesses and our competitive position globally."

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Williams also said the president was "scoffing" at the Postal Service "while a large number of our employees were dying daily as they struggled to perform our mission, during a deadly pandemic."

Williams noted that the president eventually said on the record what was becoming apparent — "that he was withholding COVID-19 relief funds so that the Postal Service could not reliably enable voting in his upcoming election." Mr. Trump made that clear in an interview with a Fox News host earlier this week.

"If we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money," the president said. "That means they can't have universal mail-in voting; they just can't have it."

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But Mnuchin did other things as well, Williams claimed. The former top USPS official said Mnuchin insisted all GOP appointees for the board and regulatory commission "come to his office to kiss the ring" before confirmation, and continued contacts with them about their performance.

Mnuchin was also interested in labor agreements, postage pricing and volume discounts given to the likes of Amazon, UPS and FedEx, Williams said.

"The Postal Service replied to early demands from the Secretary explaining that his demands were illegal, but the concerns were ignored," Williams testified.

Williams said he believes the Postal Services' financial woes "can be remedied without becoming a political tool and without gutting the infrastructure."

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