Just this week, his White House press secretary appeared on television from campaign headquarters, identified as a campaign advisor. His top immigration adviser at the White House convened a campaign briefing to attack Joe Biden. And the head of the White House’s National Economic Council, who regularly speaks on the White House’s North Lawn, has joined in a campaign calling for criticism of the coronavirus lockout.
It’s not just the White House employees getting into politics. Rarely does a day pass in a battlefield situation where a Cabinet member from the Trump administration does not visit – often accompanied by a government announcement.
A Cabinet official has violated the rules, according to an independent government oversight body; another, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is currently under investigation for the speech he gave from Jerusalem ahead of the Republican National Conference.
Given the lack of Republicans formed to speak in support of his reelection, Trump is hoping government payroll officials can help fill the void. Despite his own disdain for the famous government, Trump is using the full weight of his administration in the final stage to aid victory in his second term.
Efforts are not limited to travel. Trump has pressed administration officials to complete final announcements in the weeks leading up to the election that could attract key voters, including a plan that will cover the cost of a coronavirus vaccine. potential for people who get Medicare and Medicaid or an initiative to help lower the price of prescription drugs. He didn̵7;t shy away from getting credit, even when the Agriculture Department ordered millions of boxes of food for disadvantaged families with a letter signed by the President.
Part of that is the incumbent’s prerogative. President Barack Obama and his team have been working hard to pull government levers in ways that can please key voting blocs. Obama often travels formally to important battlefields to deliver important trade or conservation announcements that he hopes can move voters. Members of his Cabinet made dozens of visits to election battlefields in 2012, often during official taxpayer-sponsored trips. While on the road, they touted his achievements, and some even donated cash to the campaign as their individual.
The Hatch Act
Trump’s efforts have differed in their apparent political nature. While the White House and Trump’s campaign claim to be taking steps to avoid breaching the 1939 Hatch Act, which requires separation of political and formal operations, the distinction has never been less. more clearly.
That’s partly because Trump himself doesn’t often distinguish between political and official events, using the same politically motivated speech in both environments and attacking his opponents in close proximity. like every public appearance. His decision to host the final night of the Republican National Congress at the White House’s Southern Lawn seemed to justify his disdain for separating the two and allowing his team become more pervasive politics.
Trump himself is not bound by the Hatch Act. But the example he cites has clearly been adopted by other members of his administration, whose salaries are financed by taxpayers but have been involved in apparent political activity over the past weeks. . Trump has joked in the past that people found to violate the Hatch Act won’t face the consequences, according to people who have heard the chats.
While his campaign was headquartered in Virginia and had hundreds of private employees, much of the strategy-making took place at the White House, where Trump delivered orders from the Oval Office and where Jared Kushner, son Trump’s in-law, who oversees the campaign, works as a senior adviser. Other White House officials, including chief of staff Mark Meadows, also weighed in on political strategy.
So far this week, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has appeared a number of times from what appeared to be the set of the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, questioning her current role. during the Trump campaign due to her taxable position.
McEnany appeared in front of the White House image covered with the Trump-Pence campaign logo in both appearances. She was featured on Fox Business Network as “currently working as an advisor to the Trump campaign.” During an appearance, when she was stressed about whether the campaign required the use of masks, McEnany repeatedly called the campaign “we”.
“We give out masks, we encourage people to wear them, we check the temperature, we provide hand sanitizer. That’s what the campaign does,” she said.
In initiating another Fox appearance, she was introduced to both a campaign advisor and a role in the White House.
Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said: “People like Kayleigh can volunteer in the campaign, but obviously not in their government capacity. or use governmental authority ”.
“If she has a position with the campaign, not even being paid, that could raise some questions about when and where she was working, and whether she uses the Government resources to do so or not, “said Libowitz. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
A Trump campaign official said McEnany appeared as “personally on a volunteer basis” and that her news programs had been “instructed not to mention her. with the title of her White House. ” And White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews said McEnany “appeared as her individual as a private citizen.”
But she is not the only White House official to be on the run this week. Stephen Miller, who staged Trump’s tough immigration policy, spoke as “Trump’s campaign adviser” during a press conference with reporters Wednesday, making the statement unfounded that Biden will “encourage child smuggling” if elected president.
Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, said a day later in another call held by the campaign that Biden would “raise taxes and re-read large areas of the economy.” Two hours earlier, he had stood before the White House, identified as the White House’s economic adviser, in an interview on Fox News.
And Ivanka Trump, ostensibly a senior White House adviser, has consistently been on the campaign trail to support her father.
Members of Trump’s Cabinet have also flocked to key battlefields within their official capacity. When Vice President Mike Pence rallied supporters in Des Moines on Thursday, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was also in Iowa, touring the historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake City.
He spoke of his prospect of making the legendary theater a National Milestone, paying homage to the last venue Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson performed before the plane theirs was in distress. Their deaths were known as “Deadly Music Day”, as tribute to Don McClean’s 1971 classic, “American Pie”.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette traveled to states close to Trump’s political map, including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Trump has made energy – and especially fracking – a major factor in his closing message against Biden.
Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, visited North Carolina last week as a presenter for the “Seniors for Trump” event in Raleigh, a major campaign stop. final approval.
Education Minister Betsy DeVos went on to formally promote the nationwide reopening of schools, another item Trump advertised during his election rallies. On Thursday, DeVos attended a “Moms for Trump” campaign event in Detroit.
On the eve of the election, Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf traveled across the country highlighting the administration’s achievements as they relate to the core message of “law and derogation. self “of Trump and his immigration policies.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also has a strong travel schedule to pivot states, including Michigan and Wisconsin. He was fired by the Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative agency, to reimburse the government for the costs associated with his visit to North Carolina in August.
Cabinet officials are authorized by law to discuss the President’s actions and how they affect Americans, but they are prohibited from giving direct words in support of Trump’s re-election while act in its official capacity.
Pompeo was accused of only doing so in a remote speech to the Republican National Conference, which he recorded during a taxpayer-sponsored trip to Jerusalem from the roof of the King David Hotel. Democratic lawmakers said last week, the Special Counsel’s Office conducted an investigation into Pompeo’s speech. The State Department waited for almost 24 hours before releasing a statement that the previous Hatch Act claims against Pompeo were “explicitly dismissed”.
Whatever the outcome of the investigation, Pompeo is unlikely to face dire consequences. While public service officers could face layoffs and fines of up to $ 1,000 if they are found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, the President will decide the penalty on those appointed. high-level political duties.
So far, some White House employees found to be in violation of the law have yet to face the consequences.
“Blah, blah, blah,” then White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said after it was found to be in violation of the Hatch Act in 2019. “Tell me when the prison sentence begins.”