By BEN GITTLESON, JORDYN PHELPS and ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said on Monday he’d be open to an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy amid allegations that DeJoy encouraged his employees to make donations to Republican fundraising causes and then reimbursed them through bonuses.
The president, when pressed by ABC News Correspondent Kyra Phillips, at first said, “I don’t know much about it,” at a news conference at the White House on Monday afternoon but that he would support an investigation into the issue, even as he signaled he’s not inclined to believe DeJoy engaged in unlawful behavior.
According to reporting in the Washington Post and The New York Times, DeJoy, a former GOP fundraiser whose political connections helped garner his position at the U.S. Postal Service, encouraged employees of his former company, New Breed Logistics, to write fundraising checks and gave bonuses to offset the costs. DeJoy’s background in the private sector has shown significant financial stakes in companies that do business or compete with the Post Office.
ABC News has not independently confirmed these reports but has reached out to DeJoy for comment. It is against the law for an employer to reimburse employee campaign contributions.
“Let the investigations go. But he’s a very respected man,” the president continued on Monday from the White House’s North Portico. “Again, it was a bipartisan commission. Postmaster General is appointed by a bipartisan commission. We’ll see how that goes. I think he’s a very honest guy. We’ll see.”
Asked then by Phillips if DeJoy should lose his job if it is shown that he engaged in a campaign finance scheme, Trump said yes but again seemed to express doubt that wrongdoing would be proven by referring to his own scandals.
“Yes, if something can be proven, always. They have been looking at me for four years. They found nothing. Four years,” he said.
A spokesperson for DeJoy told the Washington Post that DeJoy believes that he has always followed campaign fundraising laws and regulations. A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
DeJoy has not offered a public reaction to the allegations, but he faced questioning about his possible use of straw donors during his testimony before the House Oversight committee last month.
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., asked DeJoy whether he paid back several top executives for contributing to Trump’s campaign by providing them bonuses.
“That’s an outrageous claim sir, and I resent it,” DeJoy said. “The answer is no.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over the weekend called for an investigation into DeJoy after the allegations surfaced that he had reimbursed former employees for GOP campaign contributions.
“These are very serious allegations that must be investigated immediately, independent of Donald Trump’s Justice Department,” Schumer said in a statement Sunday.
DeJoy’s former business, where the alleged activities took place, was based in North Carolina. On Sunday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein reacted to the Post’s reporting in a tweet.
“It is against the law to directly or indirectly reimburse someone for a political contribution,” Stein tweeted. “Any credible allegations of such actions merit investigation by the appropriate state and federal authorities. Beyond this, it would be inappropriate for me as Attorney General to comment on any specific matter at this time.”
The Senate minority leader threw his weight behind Stein to lead an investigation into the reported allegation.
“The North Carolina Attorney General, an elected official who is independent of Donald Trump, is the right person to start this investigation,” Schumer said in a statement.
DeJoy has been the focus of several Congressional inquiries in recent months as Democratic lawmakers have sought to understand changes at the postal service that they say has delayed the delivery of mail and could put the security of mail-in ballots at risk.
Wide range of topics covered
The president covered a wide range of topics in the Labor Day news conference, which was announced Monday morning on Twitter, as the presidential race heats up.
Trump also alleged Biden wanted to get the U.S. into “endless wars” and then suggested — in a striking comment from the commander-in-chief about the nation’s top military leaders and their motives — that “the top people in the Pentagon” aren’t happy with Trump because he wants to get the U.S. out of war.
“It’s one of the reasons the military — I’m not saying the military is in love with me — the soldiers are, the top people in the Pentagon probably are, because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy,” he said.
Trump began by trumpeting economic recovery from the pandemic while threatening a crash “the likes of which you’ve never seen before” if Democratic nominee Joe Biden were elected president in remarks from an area from the White House usually reserved for greeting foreign leaders.
“As you probably see, the numbers are terrific. So, we called some people, wished them a very happy Labor Day, and they told us how they’re doing. And we really celebrate the American worker. We are in the midst of the fastest economic recovery in U.S. history,” Trump claimed.
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