Trump using White House for nomination speech could break multiple laws


Experts say using the White House for political activity would lead to numerous White House staffers breaking federal law.

Donald Trump on Wednesday said he is considering giving his nomination acceptance speech for the Republican National Convention from the White House grounds, a move experts say is blatantly unethical and could force numerous White House aides to break federal law.

"I'll probably do mine live from the White House," Trump said Wednesday morning in an interview with "Fox & Friends," Fox News' decidedly pro-Trump morning program.

Trump said giving his speech at the White House was "the easiest from the standpoint of security" for the convention, which has undergone numerous changes and moves thanks to the coronavirus.

However, the Hatch Act explicitly prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity on government property.

"Every White House staff member who participates in this violates the Hatch Act," Richard Painter, former chief ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush, tweeted.

Richard Stengel, an MSNBC political analyst, said Trump giving his RNC speech from the White House is "the clearest conceivable violation of the Hatch Act."

"[Hundreds] of White House staffers would be violating it, not to mention charges of criminal appropriation of Congressional funds for political purposes," Stengel tweeted.

Violating the Hatch Act has become a common occurrence for Trump's White House aides.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has violated it dozens of times, according to a report, though she has faced no disciplinary action.

White House aides have also been forced to make what appeared to be a campaign ad for Trump, while first daughter Ivanka Trump — also a White House aide — may have violated it when she promoted Goya beans. White House aides cannot use their official positions to endorse products.

As for Trump's speech, plans for the Republican convention are still up in the air, as Trump's attempts to move the convention to avoid coronavirus restrictions ultimately caused too many problems.

In June, Trump decided to move the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, as Charlotte could not guarantee that Trump could both fill an arena and allow attendees to go mask-free.

However, after that decision, Florida began experiencing a massive coronavirus outbreak that left Trump facing the same restrictions he tried to avoid in Charlotte in addition to other problems, such as security concerns.

Ultimately, Trump decided to cancel the Jacksonville segment of the convention, and have just a small gathering in the original host city of Charlotte. He said he would accept the nomination in Charlotte, before admitting that the White House is now an option for his speech.

The Republican Party has yet to release a schedule for the convention — which is scheduled to take place from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.