Gladys Liu praises group at centre of foreign interference investigation


In an article for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute published on Tuesday, Ms Liu said the Oceania Federation’s donation was a great example of multicultural communities having a strong sense of pride in being Australian.

“Another inspiring example was reported in June, when the Oceania Federation of Chinese Organisations from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Inc. presented the Royal Melbourne Hospital with a donation of more than $37,000 for the hospital’s Covid appeal,” Ms Liu wrote in the article, published as part of ASPI’s After Covid-19 series.

Acting Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge (left) was presented with a donation by Sunny Duong (right) in June.

“That came on top of contributions of almost $200,000 earlier in the year towards bushfire appeals.”

A spokesman for Ms Liu said the Victorian MP made her final submission to ASPI prior to Mr Duong being charged with preparing a foreign interference act.

Despite Mr Duong presenting the donation to the hospital, government sources said it wasn’t from him personally. The donation was made up of smaller donations from the community.

The AFP alleges Mr Duong has a connection to a foreign intelligence agency, but it has not named the country. Security sources confirmed the country behind the alleged plot is China and Mr Tudge was the target.

The Hong Kong-born Ms Liu has previously come under criticism from Labor and foreign influence experts for failing to disclose her membership of Chinese government-linked associations.

But Ms Liu, the member for the Melbourne seat of Chisholm, has been increasingly outspoken this year about China’s crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

Earlier this year Ms Liu accused Beijing of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy after its national security law passed through China’s National People’s Congress. She also spoke out against the Chinese Communist Party in the Liberal party room on Tuesday over an inflammatory tweet about Australian soldiers, according to government sources.

Most Viewed in Politics

Loading



Source link

Trump didn’t ask for election interference, says Michigan leader


Staff for the state elections bureau said that claimed irregularities, even if verified, would not significantly affect the outcome.

The Michigan Democratic Party said the total number of Detroit votes implicated by imbalanced precincts — where the number of ballots does not equal the number of names on the pollbook — is at most 450, or “0.029% of the margin” separating Biden from Trump.

US President Donald Trump is greeted by Kurt Heise, left, Supervisor of Plymouth Township, Michigan, and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, right, in May during a campaign visit. Credit:AP

“The certification process must not be manipulated to serve as some sort of retroactive referendum on the expressed will of the voters. That is simply not how democracy works,” chairwoman Lavora Barnes wrote to the board on Sunday.

If the board does not confirm the results and the Michigan Supreme Court does not subsequently order it to do so, Chatfield said “now we have a constitutional crisis.” He and other Republicans, however, have indicated that they would not undermine the voters’ will.

“Michigan election law clearly requires that the state’s electors must be those nominated by the party that received the most votes — not the Legislature,” says a stock email House Republicans are sending in response to people who contact their offices.

Loading

Experts on Michigan election law have said the state board’s authority is limited in scope and that it must certify the results now that all 83 counties have reported theirs to the state. There is concern, though, because Trump personally called the two Republicans on Wayne County’s board last week and they said a day later that they were rescinding their previous vote — following an earlier deadlock — but it was too late.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican who met with Trump, suggested in a Sunday tweet that the state canvassers might “take the full time allowed by law to perform their duties” instead of voting Monday and said “it’s inappropriate for anyone to exert pressure on them.”

The deadline is December 13, but that is five days after the federal “safe harbour” date — when Congress cannot challenge any electors named by that date in accordance with state law.

Loading

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed that there were no serious irregularities.

The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election.

Republican US Representative Fred Upton, Michigan’s current longest-serving member of Congress, told CNN on Sunday that “the voters spoke” and the state had no razor-thin presidential race.

“No one has come up with any evidence of fraud or abuse,” he said. He called the request to delay the certification “out of bounds.”

The trip to the White House has come under heavy scrutiny. The lawmakers stayed at the luxury Trump International Hotel, and two of them were photographed with expensive drinks at the hotel bar after the meeting.

Spokespeople for Shirkey and Chatfield said the legislators covered their expenses and that no taxpayer money was used. However, they did not say if the men paid for the trip themselves or if it was paid for in some other way such as by them tapping into their nonprofit “administrative” accounts that can accept contributions from corporate or other donors.

Finding out about who runs such lawmaker-connected organisations, who donates to them and what the money is spent on can be extremely difficult, according to a 2016 joint investigation by MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Such accounts can be used to reimburse legislators for travel.

AP

Most Viewed in World

Loading



Source link

Trump didn’t ask for election interference, says Michigan leader


Staff for the state elections bureau said that claimed irregularities, even if verified, would not significantly affect the outcome.

The Michigan Democratic Party said the total number of Detroit votes implicated by imbalanced precincts — where the number of ballots does not equal the number of names on the pollbook — is at most 450, or “0.029% of the margin” separating Biden from Trump.

US President Donald Trump is greeted by Kurt Heise, left, Supervisor of Plymouth Township, Michigan, and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, right, in May during a campaign visit.

US President Donald Trump is greeted by Kurt Heise, left, Supervisor of Plymouth Township, Michigan, and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, right, in May during a campaign visit. Credit:AP

“The certification process must not be manipulated to serve as some sort of retroactive referendum on the expressed will of the voters. That is simply not how democracy works,” chairwoman Lavora Barnes wrote to the board on Sunday.

If the board does not confirm the results and the Michigan Supreme Court does not subsequently order it to do so, Chatfield said “now we have a constitutional crisis.” He and other Republicans, however, have indicated that they would not undermine the voters’ will.

“Michigan election law clearly requires that the state’s electors must be those nominated by the party that received the most votes — not the Legislature,” says a stock email House Republicans are sending in response to people who contact their offices.

Loading

Experts on Michigan election law have said the state board’s authority is limited in scope and that it must certify the results now that all 83 counties have reported theirs to the state. There is concern, though, because Trump personally called the two Republicans on Wayne County’s board last week and they said a day later that they were rescinding their previous vote — following an earlier deadlock — but it was too late.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican who met with Trump, suggested in a Sunday tweet that the state canvassers might “take the full time allowed by law to perform their duties” instead of voting Monday and said “it’s inappropriate for anyone to exert pressure on them.”

The deadline is December 13, but that is five days after the federal “safe harbour” date — when Congress cannot challenge any electors named by that date in accordance with state law.

Loading

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed that there were no serious irregularities.

The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election.

Republican US Representative Fred Upton, Michigan’s current longest-serving member of Congress, told CNN on Sunday that “the voters spoke” and the state had no razor-thin presidential race.

“No one has come up with any evidence of fraud or abuse,” he said. He called the request to delay the certification “out of bounds.”

The trip to the White House has come under heavy scrutiny. The lawmakers stayed at the luxury Trump International Hotel, and two of them were photographed with expensive drinks at the hotel bar after the meeting.

Spokespeople for Shirkey and Chatfield said the legislators covered their expenses and that no taxpayer money was used. However, they did not say if the men paid for the trip themselves or if it was paid for in some other way such as by them tapping into their nonprofit “administrative” accounts that can accept contributions from corporate or other donors.

Finding out about who runs such lawmaker-connected organisations, who donates to them and what the money is spent on can be extremely difficult, according to a 2016 joint investigation by MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Such accounts can be used to reimburse legislators for travel.

AP

Most Viewed in World

Loading



Source link

Government Offers Reward For Election Interference Info


KYIV — When Artyom Vysokov received a text message offering him as much as $10 million for information on Russian election interference from a number used mainly for distributing spam and phishing messages, he thought it was “some type of fraud.”

But then he saw reports from several Russian news outlets about other people receiving similar messages on their cellphones and realized they were coming shortly after the US State Department announced a new campaign to defend the American presidential election from foreign attackers.

“I realized that I was wrong and this is really true,” Vysokov, who runs a blog about monetizing websites, told BuzzFeed News. “But sending such text messages through a service that usually sends spam was not the best idea.”

On Thursday, Russians shared screenshots of SMS messages apparently sent by the State Department with the offer of huge monetary rewards for information on hackers trying to interfere with the November presidential election. Many of them — from residents of Vladivostok in the far east and Yekaterinburg at the foot of the Ural Mountains to Vysokov in Volzhskiy in the southern Volgograd region — were rounded up and shared by Russian tech news site TJournal.

And they weren’t the only ones. According to Reuters, Iranians were sent the same messages to their cellphones. Written in Russian and Farsi the text messages say: “The United States pays up to $10 million for any information on foreign interference in American elections.” They include a link to the US Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program, which offers cash bounties in return for information about threats to American national security. For the Russians, the link jumps to a verified Twitter account with the State Department logo that was created in February. There, Russian-language tweets provide readers with more information about the program.

The texts came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the US was now offering up to $10 million “for information leading to the identification or location of any person who, acting at the direction or under the control of a foreign government, interferes with U.S. elections by engaging in certain criminal cyber activities.”

While many people who received the texts questioned their legitimacy, a State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that they were in fact real. “This is a worldwide campaign in multiple languages,” the spokesperson said. “RFJ has used this and a variety of other messages to inform the public about its rewards and program.”

In a Facebook post, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova poked fun at Pompeo’s announcement, joking that many people would want to cash in on the offer. “Now the State Department’s site will go down from denunciations about its neighbors,” she wrote.

As news of the texts spread on Thursday, she posted another statement. “By calling on people to talk for money about interference in American elections, the American special services are unceremoniously interfering in our life,” Zakharova wrote. She accused Washington of targeting Russians in a manner similar to what American intelligence officials have accused Moscow of doing. “What is this if not a real hybrid attack?” she said.

The State Department’s blanket text message campaign comes after Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, which cast a shadow over the presidency of Donald Trump.

Ahead of the November election, Democratic lawmakers have raised the alarm about what they say are active attempts by Russia to interfere and called for the FBI to share information about the effort.

Of particular concern to Democrats is an inquiry being led by Republican Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is looking at the work that Joe Biden’s son Hunter did in Ukraine while Biden was the Obama administration’s point person in the country.

Democrats allege Johnson is using disinformation from pro-Russian Ukrainians to in his inquiry, an accusation that the Republican senator denies.





Source link

There are ‘legitimate concerns’ about foreign interference in US election


A NOTE ABOUT RELEVANT ADVERTISING: We collect information about the content (including ads) you use across this site and use it to make both advertising and content more relevant to you on our network and other sites. Find out more about our policy and your choices, including how to opt-out.

Powered by WordPress.com VIP



Source link

Interference in Potential Swift Parrot Nesting Trees


Media release – BirdLife Tasmania, 17 September 2020

Interference in potential Swift Parrot nesting trees

BirdLife Tasmania today proposed that the actions of the Department of State Growth (DSG) at St Helens to block potential nesting hollows for swift parrots qualifies as inappropriate interference with a Critically Endangered species, and questioned the legality of the operations.

DSG have closed potential nesting hollows in six blue gums south of St Helens to prevent swift parrots using them this breeding season. DSG are looking to construct an overtaking lane that will see these six large blue gums cut down – if the project is approved. To date, DSG does not have planning permission to undertake the road construction.

“Rather than waiting for the swift parrot breeding season to pass, and for the necessary permits to be issued to them, DSG has proactively interfered with a Critically Endangered species by reducing the availability of suitable nesting sites,” Dr Eric Woehler, Convenor of BirdLife Tasmania said today.

“BirdLife Tasmania suggests such activities are entirely inappropriate, given the conservation status of the swift parrot, currently listed under state and federal legislations as Critically Endangered.”

Swift parrots nest close to their food sources, such as blue gums, and by preventing the birds nesting in these trees, there is the potential to adversely affect their local breeding efforts,” Dr Woehler added.

“What agency issued permits for these blocks to be installed?” Dr Woehler asked.

“DSG have no permits in place for the proposed road construction. This is a very questionable act against a Critically Endangered species.”

“It’s very clear that state agencies just don’t get it when it comes to protecting our threatened species” Dr Woehler noted with concern.

“State agencies should be working to protect swift parrots and other Endangered species, not blocking their nesting hollows and cutting down nesting and feeding trees of swift parrots.”

BirdLife Tasmania called for the immediate removal of the blocks, and for the six large blue gums to be protected, and not cut down as proposed.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent=”no” parentcategory=”writers” show = “category” hyperlink=”yes”]



Source link

Fears for Australians in China after Chinese consul named in AFP warrant over political interference investigation


A former senior Defence official and diplomat is calling for urgent action to protect Australians in China, in response to the ABC’s revelations Australian police identified a Chinese consular official in a foreign interference investigation.

The ABC has revealed search warrants identify Chinese consul to Sydney, Sun Yantao, in connection with an investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and spy agency ASIO into an alleged plot by Beijing to infiltrate the New South Wales Labor Party.

Mr Sun is responsible for managing relations with the Chinese diaspora and pro-Beijing organisations in Australia, and coordinating with China’s foreign influence agency, the United Front Work Department.

Former diplomat and senior Defence official Allan Behm, who was also a federal government foreign policy adviser, said the move would worsen the diplomatic crisis between Australia and China.

“The Australian Government needs to act right now,” said Mr Behm, who is head of the international and security program at the Australia Institute.

“It needs to warn Australians who are in China that they must be extremely careful — that they must do nothing that attracts attention or that might otherwise provoke the Chinese Government.

Speaking to ABC News, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the investigation was focused on Australian citizens, suggesting consular officials such as Mr Sun would not be prosecuted.

“My understanding is that investigations that might be underway relate very much to potential foreign interference activities by publicised figures, who have been identified in the media, who are Australians,” he said.

The joint investigation by the AFP and ASIO centres on John Zhisen Zhang, a policy adviser to NSW Upper House Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane.

The ABC revealed last night Mr Zhang’s emails, messages and records of phone calls with top-level Chinese diplomats had been accessed by authorities when they seized his laptops and phones in raids in June.

John Zhang, Shaoquett Moselmane and consul Sun Yantao at a Sydney event to mark the 2017 Chinese New Year.(Supplied)

The investigation is understood to have fed into the deepening diplomatic crisis between Australia and China, which earlier this month saw two Australian journalists, the ABC’s correspondent Bill Birtles and Australian Financial Review journalist Michael Smith, evacuated from China.

Australian TV anchor Cheng Lei was arrested in Beijing last month and has not been seen publicly since.

Australians left in China could be subject to investigations

Man in suit and tie reclines in chair in boardroom with hand on wooden table and closed window blinds behind him
Allan Behm, from the Australia Institute, served as an adviser and speechwriter for Penny Wong.(ABC News: Adam Kennedy)

The Federal Government recently warned Australians they are “at risk of arbitrary detention” in China.

Mr Behm, a former adviser to Labor’s Penny Wong when she was foreign minister, said the latest developments in the foreign interference investigation represented a “very significant moment” in the relationship between the two countries.

“Australians who are resident in China, they could also become subject to all sorts of investigations and visits,” he said.

“The Chinese Government doesn’t sit down when other governments undertake what it regards as provocation. So we can expect that they will retaliate in one form or another.”

He believes identifying Mr Sun in the AFP warrants represents a major step by Australian authorities, but questions whether the Federal Government has a diplomatic strategy to manage the potential fallout.

Man in suit stands on stage behind podium with large blue graphic screen behind him
Consul Sun Yantao speaking at a Gala Dinner in Sydney in 2019(Supplied)

“It is a very big move to identify by name a Chinese diplomat, particularly the consul in Sydney, in a warrant, and it’s an even bigger moment when that warrant becomes public information,” he said.

“At the moment, Australia’s diplomacy with respect to China is absolutely in the pits. It is high time that the Australian Government listened carefully to its diplomats and actually builds a proper diplomatic policy and a strategic plan in the management of our relationship with China.”

The Chinese consulate-general in Sydney has reacted angrily to the news of its consul Mr Sun being named in the AFP warrants, saying in a statement that accusations it “engaged in infiltration activities are totally baseless and nothing but vicious slanders”.

“The Chinese consulate-general … always observes international law and basic norms of international relations while exercising duties in Australia,” it said.

Messages, emails and phone call lists accessed

A graphic of four photos of Chinese individuals, including three men and one woman.
Chinese scholars Li Jianjun (top left) and Chen Hong (top right) and media officials Li Dayong (bottom left) and Tao Shelan (bottom right) were targeted in the investigation.(Supplied)

Last week, ABC Investigations reported senior Chinese media officials in Australia had been targeted and the visas of two leading Chinese scholars had been revoked as part of the investigation.

The homes of four Sydney-based Chinese journalists were also raided in June, prompting Chinese state media to declare Australia had “severely infring[ed] on the legitimate rights of Chinese journalists”.

Yesterday it was revealed the man at the heart of the investigation, Mr Zhang, had accused Australian authorities of breaching Australian and international law by intercepting his communications with China’s top-level diplomats and their families in Australia.

Two men wearing suits stand in busy street with many people behind them
Shaoquett Moselmane and John Zhang at a street festival.(Facebook)

Mr Zhang, who has advised Mr Moselmane since 2018, formally complained to Australian Federal Government ministers his phone and computer were searched at Sydney Airport in January after he and his family arrived back from China, as well as in June during raids on his home and office.

Those devices contained emails, messages and records of calls with Chinese diplomatic and consular officials and some of their family members.

Mr Zhang’s written complaints accuse the ABF and AFP of breaching two of the most sacred international treaties enshrined in Australian law — the Vienna conventions on diplomatic and consular relations — which protect the communications of diplomatic officials.

Two men in suits stand in lavish dining room with chandelier and red curtain visible behind.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and John Zhang at an event in 2018.(Supplied)

The AFP suspects Mr Zhang and his alleged accomplices broke Australia’s foreign interference laws, alleging they chatted with Mr Moselmane in a “covert” social media group and concealed they were collaborating with China’s leading espionage and foreign influence agencies.

Mr Zhang could face up to 15 years in jail if charged and convicted of foreign interference.

Both he and Mr Moselmane deny any wrongdoing.

The Home Affairs Department and the AFP have declined to comment.



Source link

NSW MP Shaoquett Moselmane speaks out about social media chat group at centre of foreign interference allegations


A social media chat group alleged to be part of a foreign influence plot has been misrepresented and is just a “friendly chat group”, according to a New South Wales politician.

In June, the Australian Federal Police raided the home and parliamentary office of NSW Upper House MP Shaoquett Moselmane.

The AFP were seeking information relating to allegations of a foreign influence plot. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) also confirmed it was part of the investigation.

One of Mr Moselmane’s part-time staffers, John Zhang, is a suspect in the investigation. His lawyers told 7.30 that Mr Zhang denied the allegations against him.

Mr Zhang has launched a High Court challenge to the validity of a separate police warrant relating to the investigation.

In his first interview since the raids on his home, Mr Moselmane told 7.30 that while he acknowledged foreign influence was a concern in Australia, he rejected any suggestion he would be the target of a potential foreign influence campaign.

“I’m a backbencher. I have no portfolio,” he said.

“I don’t have anything to provide, if you like, that would be of interest to the Chinese.”

“I can’t see why they would be approaching me for foreign influence.”

Mr Moselmane says he does not believe he is a suspect in the investigation, and the first he learnt of any of the allegations was when his house was raided.

“It was a traumatic, you know, to see federal police in my home searching,” he said.

“And it makes it appear that my home is like a centre for espionage.”

‘Just a social group’

Police leave Shaoquett Moselmane’s Sydney home in June.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

Federal police allege Mr Zhang and unnamed others used a social media chat group to act on behalf of the Chinese state apparatus. The chat group is understood to be a WeChat group.

The chat group was allegedly used to advance the interests and policy goals of China by providing support and encouragement to Mr Moselmane for the advocacy of “Chinese state interests”.

The police allege that Mr Zhang concealed or failed to disclose to Mr Moselmane that he and others were acting on behalf of or in collaboration with the Chinese state apparatus.

Mr Moselmane told 7.30 the social media chat had been misrepresented, and that it was a “friendly chat group”.

“There’s nothing sinister. But it’s been made to sound like something covert,” he told 7.30.

“I mean, it’s just a social group, they’re chats.”

“ASIO now has got my phone and would have gone through my phone and would have seen that it’s just a general chat group.”

He also outlined some details about the membership of the chat group.

“There’s about seven people. Like I said, there was two who are academics, one from ECNU, Eastern China Normal University, one from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and a couple of journalists, foreign journalists, and one John Zhang. And another is a friend of mine from Hurstville,” he said.

“So these are people who are … individuals who I have never seen anything untoward from any of them.”

A man in a car looking downcast.
Shaoquett Moselmane arriving at his Sydney home.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

When asked whether he discussed his speeches or parliamentary work over the chat he said: “Not necessarily … I mean, sometimes we share articles, or we share speech or share comment. We share jokes. This is a common human thing.”

He told 7.30 Mr Zhang did not write speeches for him in his work as a part-time staffer.

“He basically translated what I wrote. So if I said, if I gave a speech in the House, an adjournment speech, and that is of interest to the wider Chinese community, I’d asked him to translate it,” Mr Moselmane said.

Mr Zhang’s lawyers, Nyman Gibson Miralis, told 7.30 in a statement: “Although we understand that the AFP is continuing its investigation, you would be aware that Mr Zhang has not been charged with any criminal offence.

“In those circumstances it would not be appropriate for Mr Zhang to respond to allegations based on the search warrants or derived from any other sources.”

The AFP said it would not be providing any further comment while the investigation was ongoing.

Public comments

a man looking intently at a festive chinese dragon
Shaoquett Moselmane has drawn attention for his comments about China.(Facebook)

Mr Moselmane has attracted media and political scrutiny over some of his comments praising the Chinese Government, and his criticism of Australia.

In one speech in June 2018 he said the only way for China to achieve its potential was to force a change to the rules and create a “new world order”.

Mr Moselmane told 7.30: “Obviously, as a nation rising, it obviously will demand, there’s no doubt will demand, respect as a great nation.

“And that was it. It wasn’t that I wanted China to change the world order.”

In an essay published in February this year that was written by Mr Moselmane and translated into Mandarin, he praised China’s response to the pandemic.

The essay makes sweeping claims about Australia’s slow response to the pandemic, and makes other claims about the racial prejudice of the Australian media and anti-China sentiment in Australia.

It was also reported that according to independent translations of the essay he wrote that the “obsolete scum of white Australia” had re-emerged.

Mr Moselmane denies ever writing those words.

“What I actually said, [is] … this is the old white Australia fear of the yellow peril resurfacing. I never said white Australian scum,” he said.

“It is completely stupid of any Member of Parliament to say that white Australians are scum.”

“I reject it totally and absolutely.”

Two translations commissioned by 7.30 of a portion of the essay indicate he was referring to what he claimed is the re-emergence of white Australian prejudices.

‘Police told me I’m not a suspect’

A man sits at a table wearing a suit and tie.
Shaoquett Moselmane had his ALP membership suspended after the police raids.(Supplied: Shaoquett Moselmane)

The course of the AFP and ASIO investigation may set a significant precedent about foreign interference investigations involving political figures, and for the future of foreign interference laws themselves.

Mr Moselmane has not been charged with any offences, and maintains that he is not a suspect in the investigation.

He had his Labor Party membership suspended following the raids, and said he would take a leave of absence from Parliament while the investigation took place.

He is confident that he will be able to re-enter Parliament.

“They beamed the whole operation to the world. I mean, the federal police inside told me that I’m not a suspect. But outside I was. I was a criminal,” he said.

Mr Zhang’s legal team has also challenged the constitutional validity of the foreign interference offences, arguing they violate the implied freedom of political communication guaranteed under the constitution.

If the challenge is successful, it could render part or all of the foreign interference offences introduced by Parliament invalid.

The High Court challenge is still underway.



Source link

Trump defends US Postal Service chief amid row over electoral interference claims | US News


President Donald Trump has defended the US Postal Service chief who is at the centre of an escalating row over allegations of electoral interference ahead of November’s election.

The service has found itself in a political battle after admitting it would not be able to guarantee that all postal votes – known as mail-in ballots in the US – will arrive at counts on time, even if they are sent by state deadlines.

It could mean that millions of voters will lose their voice in this year’s presidential election, which has been made more difficult to run as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Image:
The postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, is a significant Republican donor

Mr Trump has consistently denied extra funding for the service ahead of the 3 November poll, where many people may avoid voting in person at the ballot box amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Mail-in voting is common place in the US. But the president has been unwilling to make a deal with Democrats that included more money for the agency.

His opposition appears to be linked to his, largely unsubstantiated, claims that mail-in voting is an opportunity for fraud and election interference.

However, some Democrats have accused him of deliberate voter suppression, claiming Mr Trump wants to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.

At a news conference on Saturday night, he defended the Postmaster General, Republican donor Louis DeJoy, saying he was trying to “streamline” the service and “make it great again”.

Shortly afterwards, it was reported the Democrat house speaker Nancy Pelosi was considering bringing representatives back to Washington DC to discuss the crisis in the Postal Service.

Ms Pelosi previously said that Mr Trump was waging an “all-out assault” on the service in the run-up to the election.

Earlier in the week on Fox News, the president admitted his opposition to additional funding would deprive the agency of cash that Democrats say it needs to process an expected surge in mail-in ballots amid the pandemic.

:: Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker

He said: “They want $25bn (£18.7bn) for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.

“Now in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”

“Now, if we don’t make a deal that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting,” Mr Trump added. “They just can’t have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing.”



Donald Trump ignores a question about lying



Trump ignores question about lying

Despite his frequent attacks on the postal service, Mr Trump and his wife Melania have both applied for mail-in ballots in Florida, where they have a home.

The Postal Service is seen as being underfunded and understaffed, and has not made any money since 2007. It receives no taxpayer funding, relying almost wholly on sales from stamps and its services.



Source link