September 10, 2020
As we inch closer and closer to Election Day, the president and his staff continue to use government resources for partisan politics in problematic ways. Just during the last week, the president gave a political speech during an official event and White House staffers committed at least four more violations of the Hatch Act.
After the public ethics debacle of delivering Republican National Convention (RNC) speeches on White House property, the Trump administration has escalated their abuse of official events to attack Trump’s political rival. During a speech on the economy and jobs delivered on Labor Day from the North Portico, President Trump aggressively attacked the Democratic ticket for President and Vice President, saying: “Biden and his very liberal running mate — the most liberal person in Congress, by the way, who’s not a competent person, in my opinion; would destroy this country and would destroy this economy.”
Although the president is exempt from the civil provisions of the Hatch Act, which bar the use of federal authority and resources to support partisan politics, Trump’s remarks are also posted on the official White House website. A sure sign of their partisan nature is that excerpts of Trump’s speech were also promoted by the official Twitter account for the Trump campaign under the caption: “President @realDonaldTrump on Joe Biden’s China sellouts.”
In addition to Trump’s use of official events and federal property for campaigning, White House staffers continue to use their official positions to promote his re-election effort and attack Joe Biden. The latest additions to this list include:
1. On September 6, Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro participated in an interview on Fox News where he discussed administration trade policy and criticized Biden’s record related to trade and China. Navarro stated that a Biden presidency “would mean … devastation in the midwest, blue collar workers, just getting hammered. We lost over 70,000 factories, Maria, over 5 million manufacturing jobs. And it was because Joe Biden likes ‘Made in China.’ Donald Trump came along in many ways because he said, ‘Hey, that’s not good. That’s not right. I’m gonna fix that.’” Navarro later added: “Beijing Biden vs. Made in America Donald J. Trump. I think that’s one of the stark differences between the two sides.”
2. Later that same day, Navarro posted a political message attacking Biden’s record on China from the Twitter account that he uses for official government business, @PeterNavarro45. This is exactly the type of conduct that the Office of Special Counsel (and now-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows) has found to violate that Hatch Act.
The account has an official photograph, links to the White House website and identifies Navarro by his official title: “Assistant to the President for Trade & Manufacturing Policy. Tweets may be archived: http://wh.gov/privacy”
3. On September 7, Navarro posted another political message attacking Biden from the Twitter account that he uses for official government business, @PeterNavarro45, and also shared his earlier interview from Fox News where he did the same.
4. On September 3, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany gave an interview to Fox News in her official capacity on the White House grounds. McEnany specifically answered questions about the widening gap with women voters between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Trump in a recent Fox News poll. McEnany said: “We believe the president has a lot of support among women. It doesn’t always show up in these polls. But we believe it’s there. We see it in our polls. And we believe this President will do extremely well with women come Election Day.” She added: “What [women] have taken offense to is the Democrat plans to allow lawlessness in our cities. … President Trump and Republicans will help you and protect you.”