Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for an investigation into allegations that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy violated campaign finance laws by pressuring employees at his company to make campaign donations to Republicans that he would later reimburse.
"These are very serious allegations that must be investigated immediately, independent of Donald Trump's Justice Department," Schumer said in a statement on Sunday. "The North Carolina Attorney General, an elected official who is independent of Donald Trump, is the right person to start this investigation."
The Washington Post reported Sunday that five people who worked for New Breed Logistics, where DeJoy was chairman and CEO for 31 years, said that they were "urged by DeJoy's aides or by the chief executive himself to write checks and attend fundraisers" at his Greensboro mansion. The Post cited two employees who said that DeJoy would then have the employees' bonuses raised "to help defray the cost of their contributions," which would be illegal.
DeJoy's tenure as CEO ended with his retirement in December 2015, after he sold the company to XPO Logistics in 2014. The statute of limitations for federal campaign finance violations is five years. The New Breed employees who spoke to the Washington Post were discussing their donations between 2003 and 2014.
If the violation is referred to criminal prosecutors as a potential felony, there is no statute of limitations under North Carolina law.
The president said he doesn't know much about the story. When asked if he'd support an investigation into the claims, he replied, "Sure," and added that he thinks DeJoy is an honest man. If it's proven that he did something illegal, the president said he would support his removal.
"Yeah, if something can be proven that he did something wrong, always," Mr. Trump said. "Always. They've been looking at me for four years, they found nothing. Four years, think of it. For four years. From the day I came down the escalator I've been under investigation by sleaze. And they found nothing. They found nothing."
Josh Stein, the attorney general for North Carolina, tweeted a statement responding to the Post's report, "It is against the law to directly or indirectly reimburse someone for a political contribution. Any credible allegations of such actions merit investigation by the appropriate state and federal authorities."
Monty Hagler, DeJoy's spokesman, told the Washington Post in a statement that DeJoy had consulted an election law attorney to make sure that he and anyone affiliated with New Breed Logistics had "fully complied with any and all laws."
"Mr. DeJoy was never notified by the New Breed employees referenced by the Washington Post of any pressure they might have felt to make a political contribution, and he regrets if any employee felt uncomfortable for any reason," Hagler's statement also said.
In August, Congressman Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, pressed DeJoy at a House oversight hearing on whether he had ever reimbursed employees for donating to Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
"Did you pay back several of your top executives for contributing to Trump's campaign by bonusing or rewarding them?"
"That's an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it," DeJoy replied.
"I'm just asking a question," Cooper responded.
"The answer's no," DeJoy said, adding, "during the Trump campaign, I wasn't even working at my company anymore."
DeJoy has donated more than $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund and millions to the Republican National Committee and GOP candidates over the past 30 years, according to Federal Elections Commission records. He also oversaw fundraising for the Republican convention.