Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday accused the Trump White House of covering up the role Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin played in recruiting Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor with no prior experience working for the U.S. Postal Service.
"If it looks like a cover-up, sounds like a cover-up, and smells like a cover-up, it's a cover-up."
—Rep. Jackie Speier
In a letter to Robert Duncan, chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, Schumer wrote that as part of his investigation into DeJoy's selection and unanimous appointment in May, his office "learned of the role Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had with the Postal Board of Governors, including through meetings with individual governors as well as phone calls with groups of governors, which has not been previously disclosed by the board."
"This administration has repeatedly pointed to the role of [executive search firm] Russell Reynolds to defend the selection of a Republican mega-donor with no prior postal experience as postmaster general while at the same time blocking the ability of Congress to obtain briefings from the firm and concealing the role of Secretary Mnuchin and the White House in its search process," the New York Democrat wrote.
Schumer demanded that the Board of Governors—which is completely controlled by Trump appointees—immediately release Russell Reynolds from any nondisclosure agreement barring the firm from providing details about its postmaster general search and provide a full "explanation of the role of President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin in the search process for a new postmaster and the selection of Mr. DeJoy."
I’m demanding the USPS Board of Governors immediately disclose all materials on the selection of Trump megadonor Louis DeJoy to be Postmaster General
The role President Trump, Secretary Mnuchin, and the search firm played in his selection must be exposedhttps://t.co/58UGatCRL6
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 19, 2020
Schumer's investigation into the process that resulted in DeJoy's appointment began in June, when he demanded that the Board of Governors turn over any communications with the White House related to the postmaster general's selection. Shortly after taking charge of USPS on June 15, DeJoy moved to impose operational changes that caused severe mail backlogs across the nation. DeJoy this week vowed to suspend, but not reverse, the changes.
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"In your July 2 response to me, the board asserted that much of the information I requested was confidential and declined to provide it," Schumer wrote Wednesday. "As a result, my staff sought the cooperation of Russell Reynolds with Congress... My office was informed by counsel for Russell Reynolds that the board was not willing to waive its nondisclosure agreement so that Congress could satisfy its oversight obligations."
In response to stonewalling by the Board of Governors and the Trump White House, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) tweeted, "If it looks like a cover-up, sounds like a cover-up, and smells like a cover-up, it's a cover-up."
On Wednesday, watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) obtained documents confirming that Mnuchin was involved in the Board of Governors' effort to find a replacement for former Postmaster General Megan Brennan, a 34-year Postal Service veteran who retired in June.
NEW: Documents obtained by @CREWcrew show that Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin involved himself directly in the selection of the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, who then took steps that could undercut voting by mail, apparently to help the President.https://t.co/dIHoGbKy3z
— Noah Bookbinder (@NoahBookbinder) August 20, 2020
As CREW's Donald Sherman and Linnaea Honl-Stuenkel wrote Wednesday, the documents reveal that "Mnuchin met with the United States Postal Service Board of Governors in February to discuss the search for a new postmaster general as part of his larger campaign to exert influence over the USPS."
"It's clear that Mnuchin had a candidate for postmaster general in mind, who was personally invested in USPS competitors," Sherman and Honl-Stuenkel continued. "The Washington Post reports that Louis DeJoy, the eventual pick, was recruited by Mnuchin."