Trump has reportedly fixated on the 'loser' USPS since 2017, but the mail-in ballot vendetta came from his allies

A sign left outside Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's house
(Image credit: Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty Images)

"Soon after taking office in 2017, President Trump seized on the U.S. Postal Service as an emblem of the bloated bureaucracy," repeatedly calling it "a loser," The Washington Post reports, citing aides who discussed the matter with him. "Allies coddled Trump by telling him the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was widespread mail-in balloting fraud — a conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence — and the president's postal outrage coarsened further."

Trump himself came up with the false idea that Amazon's Jeff Bezos was "getting rich" because Amazon had been "ripping off" the Postal Service with a "sweetheart deal" on package delivery, an aide told the Post, leading to private griping among advisers who kept trying to explain to Trump that the Amazon-USPS deal was mutually beneficial. The Post adds this anecdote:

As Larry Kudlow prepared to take over for Gary Cohn as National Economic Council director in 2018, Kudlow told Cohn, "I just talked to the president and we have got to do something about this special deal Amazon has with the Postal Service," according to two former senior administration officials. ... Cohn burst out laughing and told Kudlow: "It's not my problem anymore. I've heard about this all the time since I've been here, and I've tried explaining that the post office actually competes for and wants last-mile delivery." [The Washington Post]

But now Trump's views on the Postal Service have collided with the upcoming election, to be conducted by mail to an unprecedented degree because of COVID-19. "Trump's fury with the Postal Service and mail-in balloting has become something of an obsession in recent weeks," the Post reports. "The president devotes extensive time to reading news reports and other materials about mail-in ballots, talking about the topic with his advisers and thinking about how to block such voting, according to one senior administration official."

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Perhaps coincidentally, changes instituted by his new postmaster general and major Trump donor, Louis DeJoy, have led to slowed delivery and service disruptions around the U.S., as The New York Times details.

"In the 245 years of the Postal Service, no one has seen political attacks like this," James O'Rourke, a Notre Dame management professor who specializes in the USPS, tells the Post. "While for a long time we thought this was not politically driven, it's becoming increasingly transparent in recent days that this is almost entirely political."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.