Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

An independent U.S. government investigation has found that at least 13 senior Trump administration officials have repeatedly and intentionally violated U.S. law prohibiting overt political activity while in federal office.

In a report Tuesday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said former officials violated the Hatch Act in connection with former President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the controversial holding of the 2020 Republican National Convention on White House grounds.

Government resources are said to have been repeatedly used to advance Trump’s political campaign in 2020 in “what looked like a taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus within the upper branch of the executive branch.”

“The administration’s deliberate disregard for the law was particularly damaging,” the office said in its 59-page report, which put the blame directly at Trump’s feet. “The president’s refusal to demand compliance with the law laid the foundation for the transgressions.”

The Hatch Act, first passed by Congress in 1939, is intended to prevent federal employees from engaging in political advocacy while performing official duties. It frees the president and vice president and is difficult to enforce against political appointments, especially once they leave office.

Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows were among those identified in the OSC report. violated the law.

The findings come as Miller, McEnany and other Trump associates were summoned by a U.S. House of Representatives panel on Tuesday investigation the deadly Capitol uprising earlier this year.

For weeks, Trump repeated false claims that widespread voter fraud has damaged the 2020 election he lost to Joe Biden. After he delivered a fiery speech in Washington, DC, on January 6, a crowd of his supporters stormed the Capitol building as Congress convened to certify Biden’s victory.

The former Republican president has since tried fight efforts by the House Committee to obtain White House documents, calling the January 6 investigation politically motivated.

“We need to know exactly what role the former president and his assistants played in trying to stop the counting of election votes and whether they were in contact with anyone outside the White House who was trying to overthrow the election result.” Bennie Thompson, who is chairman of the House Panel, said in a statement the announcement of the new subpoenas.

‘Lose the law’

In Tuesday’s report, the OSC said it had received hundreds of complaints of alleged Hatch Act violations by senior Trump administration officials during the 2020 election campaign.

The office found “penetrating” examples of a “decision by some in the Trump administration to disregard the law” and “with the administration’s approval,” the report said.

In August last year, Trump hosted rush-hour segments of the Republican National Convention (RNC) from the White House while being eligible for re-election.

He also used the White House himself as a stage for the convention, which provoked anger among Democrats who at the time said it violated the Hatch Act but could do nothing to stop it.

Among the RNC programs “orchestrated with the aim of creating content for the convention” was a White House naturalization ceremony for new citizens with Trump and then-acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, the report said.

Former Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo also delivered a keynote address to the RNC from Jerusalem, decades of precedent broken by sitting state secretaries to avoid openly biased political activities, especially when they are engaged in government affairs overseas.

Mike Pompeo speaks from JerusalemUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem on August 25, 2020. [File: Republican National Convention/Handout via Reuters]

Pompeo is one of a number of Republicans who are considered likely contenders for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024 if Trump does not run.

In media interviews conducted from official positions, Trump’s political appointments – including senior adviser Kellyanne Conway – openly promoted Trump’s re-election and despised Biden, according to the report.

“This report confirms that there was nothing less than a systematic co-operation of the powers of the federal government to keep Donald Trump in office,” said Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). a non-government watchdog.

The enforcement of the Hatch Act’s prohibition on political activities by federal employees rests primarily with the President and through administrative disciplinary proceedings.

As a result, “there is currently no mechanism” to hold accountable Trump administration officials who have already left office, the OSC said, an independent investigation and prosecution agency that rules within the U.S. federal labor force of 1.8 million members enforce.

Biden administration officials have also opposed the Hatch Act since he was appointed in January.

CREW filed a complaint against White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last month for appearing at a White House press conference to endorse former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat. McAuliffe ran for re-election to his old post in Virginia’s Nov. 2 polls.

The OSC also issued a warning to the Biden administration’s housing and urban development minister, Marcia Fudge, in May, saying the Democrats “have a good chance” of winning the U.S. Senate seat in Ohio next year. to win evacuated by Republican Rob Portman.

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