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Massachusetts Attorney General Eyes Suing Trump Administration Over USPS Changes


A number of Democratic state attorneys general are considering a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its changes at the U.S. Postal Service. Those changes include controversial cost-cutting measures at the agency that have already led to mail delays and fears that the service may struggle to handle the surge in mail-in ballots expected to come with this November's election, all of which is happening amid President Trump's repeated baseless attacks on voting by mail. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joins us now.

Good afternoon.

MAURA HEALEY: Good afternoon, Leila.

FADEL: So what's illegal about what the Trump administration is doing?

HEALEY: Well, I think first of all, we have to recognize that in this election, we're going to see vote by mail in numbers never seen before. It's absolutely imperative given the COVID pandemic. And the bottom line is that people should be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote free from obstruction or any barriers. And the concern here is that if you listen to Donald Trump's statements about the Postal Service and you see some of the reports of what's happened within the service, there are real concerns raised that the president is essentially undermining our democracy by trying to cast and create doubt and chaos with respect to mail-in voting.

And as attorneys general, our job is to protect the rule of law. And regardless of party and whoever you're voting for, we want to make sure that all Americans are assured a fair and safe election process and that they have the right to vote and that their votes are counted.

FADEL: So if you go ahead with the lawsuit, what would be the specific legal basis of it? What would you be going after the Trump administration for?

HEALEY: Well, I think there's a general concern on a few fronts. One, there are constitutional issues, right? So people have a fundamental right to vote in this country. No. 2, there are certain procedures that the U.S. Postal Service is supposed to follow, and we want to make sure that those procedures are being followed. We don't want reductions in force. We don't want removal of machinery done intentionally to undermine the ability of votes to be mailed out to people or to be mailed back to clerks' offices.

And so these are some of the legal considerations. But this is part of a multifaceted approach, and not only is this an issue that goes to voting. Right now it also goes to the ability of people to receive their Social Security checks and for veterans to get their benefits and for seniors and others to get their prescription drugs. So this is really, really serious. We're going to continue to work with our state legislatures and Congress and others on accountability and oversight so that we can ensure voting integrity.

FADEL: So far, the attorney generals that are publicly involved in this effort are Democrats. Do you worry this will be dismissed as a partisan move?

HEALEY: Well, no. I welcome the participation of all AGs. I don't think this is a partisan issue when it comes to voting. It is a fundamental constitutional right. And regardless of party or who one may vote for, it seems to me that all state AGs charged with the responsibility of upholding the rule of law and protecting the constitution will join in unison in being clear that we need to ensure that people in this country are able to exercise their fundamental right to vote in the midst of an election that obviously causes different circumstances as a result of COVID.

FADEL: When do you expect to announce anything on this possible lawsuit?

HEALEY: Well, I think we understand the urgency and the need here as voting is underway right now in places for primaries. And we understand that it's important for there to be clarity and for there to be integrity in the system.

FADEL: That's Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Thank you.

HEALEY: Great to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.