President Trump pointedly did not extend his embattled postmaster general much of a a lifeline on Monday, when asked during a White House press briefing about allegations that Louis DeJoy, a onetime major GOP donor, had reimbursed employees at his previous job for their own political contributions — an apparent violation of federal campaign finance laws.
"I don't know much about it," Trump offered at first, adding that "I read something about it this morning, but I don't — other than that I'd have to see it."
But when asked if he supported an investigation into DeJoy's alleged scheme, Trump quickly agreed, nodding "sure, sure" and adding that "if something can be proven that he did something wrong" then DeJoy should resign from the Postal Service.
DeJoy, already facing intense congressional scrutiny for allegedly helping orchestrate the systematic handicapping of the United States Postal Service's capacity ahead of the upcoming 2020 presidential election, now stands accused of using his position as a corporate CEO to skirt campaign finance laws using what's known as a "straw donor" scheme.
Both The Washington Post and The New York Times reported this week that multiple employees at New Breed Logistics claimed they felt pressured to donate to conservative politicians favored by DeJoy, then the company's CEO, only to receive salary bonuses widely understood to be repayment for their donations — an allegation that, if true, means DeJoy was effectively funneling money through a series of intermediaries in order to get around campaign donation limits.
"Louis was a national fundraiser for the Republican Party. He asked employees for money. We gave him the money, and then he reciprocated by giving us big bonuses,” New Breed Logistics's former human resources director David Young told the Post. “When we got our bonuses, let’s just say they were bigger, they exceeded expectations — and that covered the tax and everything else."
In a carefully worded response to the Post, DeJoy said he "regrets" if his former employees felt uncomfortably pressured to make political donations, that he had "sought and received" legal advice regarding political donations during his time at New Breed Logistics, and that he "believes that all campaign fundraising laws and regulations should be complied with in all respects." Notably, his response does not include an explicit denial of the allegations made against him.
DeJoy had previously pushed back on similar allegations during a congressional hearing before the House Oversight Committee last month.
However, in a sign that DeJoy's legal troubles may only just be beginning, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein tweeted that "any credible allegations of such actions merit investigation by the appropriate state and federal authorities."
DeJoy, once one of the Republican National Committee's three national deputy finance chairmen — along with former Trump fixer Michael Cohen and longtime GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, both of whom had previously pleaded guilty to various financial crimes — was also a personal donor to Trump's campaign, hosting the president for fundraising events at his Greensboro, North Carolina, home as recently as 2017.
In addition to serving in the Trump administration as postmaster general, DeJoy's wife was appointed by the president as vice-chairwoman of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships during Trump's first year in office.