Washington— President Trump’s top aides, including his son-in-law and chief of staff, violated a law designed to prevent federal employees from abusing their positions on behalf of political candidates by campaigning illegally for Trump’s re-election, a government watchdog agency said Tuesday.
Deputy Attorney General Henry Kerner made the claim in a scathing report following an investigation into “myriad” Hatch Act violations that lasted nearly a year.
It concluded that “Senior Trump administration officials used their official authority to promote the reelection of President Trump in violation of the law,” according to the report’s findings. ”
An investigation conducted by Mr. Kerner’s office found that Trump administration officials purposefully flouted the law prohibiting political activity in order to avoid being investigated by the Office of Special Counsel before the November election.
It was “especially pernicious given the timing of when many of these violations occurred,” according to the report.
Hatch Act infractions are nothing new for a presidential administration to encounter. An outside group accused White House press secretary Jen Psaki of breaking the law when she made comments about Virginia’s upcoming governor’s race in the White House press room in October.
The Kerner report, on the other hand, reveals something far more unusual: the White House’s highest officials engaged in a deliberate and willful effort to break the law. The report’s release was made public earlier today by the Washington Post.
A who’s who of Trump officials are accused of breaking the law: David Friedman is ambassador to Israel. Kellyanne Conway is White House counsellor. Alyssa Farah is White House communications director. Jared Kushner is senior adviser. Kayleigh McEnany is press secretary. Mark Meadows is chief of staff. Stephen Miller is senior adviser. Brian Morgenstern is deputy press secretary.
The Republican National Convention was held at the White House due to the pandemic, and the report claims that Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Wolf broke the law in doing so.
When he delivered his speech, he cited the State Department’s work repeatedly, a move that was described as “changing U.S. Department of State (State Department) policy” to allow him to speak at the convention. Mr. Pompeo was accused of engaging in political activity without permission.
According to the report, Mr. Wolf “violated the Hatch Act by presiding over a naturalisation ceremony that was orchestrated for the purpose of creating content for the convention.”
Overt campaigning “during official interviews or media appearances” was illegal for the rest of the officials.
‘Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares’ about Trump administration officials violating the Hatch Act, according to then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was succinctly captured in an interview, the executive summary of the report said.
On Tuesday, Noah Bookbinder, the president of Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington, praised the Office of Special Counsel’s report on Trump administration officials.
Mr. Bookbinder said in a statement that this report “confirms that there was nothing less than a systematic co-optation of the powers of the federal government to keep Donald Trump in office.”. There has been an open disregard for the law designed to prevent government resources and power from being used in favour of partisan politics by senior Trump administration officials.
Mr. Bookbinder urged Congress to tighten the restrictions on federal employees’ ability to engage in political activity.
Because it is up to the incumbent president to discipline his most senior staff, none of the individuals named in the Office of Special Counsel report will be punished.
When it came to defending an OSC employee who was found to have repeatedly broken the Hatch Act, Trump not only failed, but he did so in public. As a result of this lack of discipline, the upper echelons of the executive branch appeared to have what appeared to be a taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus.”
Emails sent to Mr. Trump’s representatives went unanswered.