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Postal slowdown threatens election breakdown

Freelance writer Mark Delaney tells me he took this photo Aug. 8 of a postal worker in Portland, Ore., removing mailboxes. Via Twitter

In 24 hours, signs of a pre-election postal slowdown have moved from the shadows to the spotlight, with evidence emerging all over the country that this isn't a just a potential threat, but is happening before our eyes.

Why it matters: If you're the Trump administration, and you're in charge of the federal government, remember that a Pew poll published in April found the Postal Service was viewed favorably by 91% of Americans.


Between the lines: There's pretty high brand equity for the organization that got soldiers' letters back from the front lines, delivered care packages to your summer camp, and shoved your college acceptance through the front door.

What's happening: Louis DeJoy, a top Trump donor, was sworn in as postmaster general in June. Since then:

  • Social media exploded with reports from Oregon, Montana, Manhattan and Pennsylvania that the Postal Service was unbolting and hauling away mailboxes. "Some of the boxes scheduled to be removed from downtown Billings are nearly overflowing daily,” Julie Quilliam, president of the Montana Letter Carriers Association, wrote on Facebook, per AP.
  • The Postal Service backed off Friday, telling NBC News: "We are not going to be removing any boxes ... After the election, we’re going to take a look at operations."
  • The WashPost scooped that the Postal Service sent letters July 29 to 46 states and D.C. "warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted." The Post said that could mean that even if people "follow all of their state’s election rules, the pace of Postal Service delivery may disqualify their votes."
  • And high-speed sorting machines are being yanked from processing plants.

Of note: Joe Biden is seizing on the postal fiasco, saying on Friday at a virtual fundraiser, per a pool report:

  • "I was joking earlier with a couple on the call. I wonder if you're outside trying to hold down your mailboxes. They’re going around literally with tractor trailers picking up mailboxes. You oughta go online and check out what they're doing in Oregon. I mean, it's bizarre!"

Schumer: "Nothing is off the table next year" if Senate GOP moves to fill Ginsburg's seat

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democrats on a conference call Saturday that "nothing is off the table next year" if Senate Republicans move to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat in the coming weeks.

What he's saying: “Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year," Schumer said, according to a source on the call. "Nothing is off the table.”

ActBlue collects record-breaking $30 million in hours after Ginsburg's death

ActBlue, the Democratic donation-processing site, reported a record-breaking $30 million raised from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday in the aftermath of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, NPR writes and ActBlue confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters via the New York Times: "The unprecedented outpouring shows the power of a looming Supreme Court confirmation fight to motivate Democratic donors."

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Trump says Republicans have an "obligation" to fill Ginsburg's seat "without delay"

President Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday morning that Republicans have an "obligation" to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court following her death Friday.

What he's saying: "We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices," the president said. "We have this obligation, without delay!"

Hundreds gather to pay tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg along Supreme Court steps

At the Supreme Court steps Friday night hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — singing in a candlelight vigil, with some in tears.

Details: If there is a singular mood at the Supreme Court tonight, it’s some kind of a daze manifested by silence. 

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves behind a court fight for the ages

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — feminist icon, legal giant, toast of pop culture — left this statement with granddaughter Clara Spera as cancer closed in: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

The big picture: For all that the nation owes "Notorious RBG" — the hip-hop-inspired nickname she enjoyed and embraced — Republicans are planning to do their best to be sure her robe is quickly filled, despite that last wish, with her ideological polar opposite.

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Can the U.S. ever eliminate the coronavirus?

As the coronavirus pandemic drags into its seventh month, it remains an open debate whether the U.S. should aim for the elimination of COVID-19 — and whether we even can at this point.

Why it matters: This is the question underlying all of the political and medical battles over COVID-19. As both the direct effects of the pandemic and the indirect burden of the response continue to add up, we risk ending up with the worst of both worlds if we fail to commit to a course.

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Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

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Biden: "Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for the law"

Joe Biden said Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "never failed, she was fierce and unflinching in her pursuit of civil and legal right and civil rights of everyone," after learning of her death Friday night.

What he's saying: Biden gave a statement after traveling to Delaware from Minnesota, where, earlier Friday, he gave a campaign speech at a carpenters’ training center in Hermantown, a suburb of Duluth. She was "not only a giant in the legal profession, but a beloved figure, and my heart goes out to all those who cared for her and cared about her."

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