GOP congressman claims impeachment witnesses are close to breaking the law

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Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) is upset that administration officials testifying against Trump are improperly helping the Democrats by making him look bad.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), a man once scored as the least bipartisan member of Congress, is angry that the impeachment inquiry hearings into Donald Trump's alleged illegal dealings with Ukraine might help the Democrats. On Friday, he made the creative suggestion that, by testifying against Trump, members of the administration might be improperly engaging in partisanship.

In a radio interview, Brooks argued that because the impeachment hearings could help the Democrats, administration officials taking part are essentially engaging in political activity on the job.

"The Democrats are doing their utmost to use federal tax dollars to illegally engage in opposition research in order to enhance their chances in the 2020 elections," Brooks charged.

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Asked by conservative host Dale Jackson whether administration officials' testifying might be violating a federal law that limits partisan activity by members of the executive branch, he suggested that it could come close.

"Certainly, it has had a partisan effect," Brooks noted, acknowledging that because they are under subpoena, they'd likely not run afoul of the strict text of the law. "If they were to openly say anti-Republican, [anti-Trump] things, outside of being subject to a subpoena or a call to a hearing, there would be that risk," he added.

The Hatch Act is a 1939 anti-corruption law that bars executive branch officials from using government resources for political campaigning or engaging in electioneering when on the clock.

The concern is ironic, given that the Trump administration has been admonished repeatedly for ignoring the Hatch Act and essentially refused to enforce its provisions against Trump appointees, calling the law an attack on "free speech."

Back in September, Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump associate now serving in a key position at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was cited by the Office of Special Counsel for violating the law. She was punished only by a stern letter and no disciplinary action.

According to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Patton was the 13th Trump administration official to have violated the Hatch Act. Trump's chief counselor Kellyanne Conway and his former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley are among those whose illegal partisan activities went essentially unpunished.

Brooks, a fierce and passionate Trump defender, has previously attacked the impeachment inquiry as "propaganda simply because [House Democrats] dislike Donald Trump," a "charade," and a "sham" by "Socialist Dems." He has also accused the whistleblower, who filed an anonymous report objecting to Trump's July phone call with the Ukrainian president, as "a spy working on behalf of the Democratic Party."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.