'I'm in charge of the Hatch Act': Trump lashes out at chief of staff over potential ethics violations, report says

Enforcement of Hatch Act is generally handled by president, who has refused previous calls to prosecute his staff

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 22 October 2019 20:55 BST
Donald Trump dismisses Kellyanne Conway's violations of the Hatch Act

Donald Trump reportedly told a room of his top aides that he is in charge of the Hatch Act, when warned by his chief of staff that bringing his cabinet members to a campaign rally could violate ethics rules.

The comment, reported in a new Wall Street Journal article, illustrates the degree to which Mr Trump believes his administration does not have to worry about the rule, which was passed a century ago with the intention of warding off political activity by government employees.

The meeting in question occurred in June, a month in which at least two prominent officials in Mr Trump’s administration had been cited for potential violations the law.

Those two were White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump — the president’s adult daughter — should be punished for violating the law, which barres government employees to advocate for the election or defeat of a partisan political candidate.

“I’m in charge of the Hatch Act,” Mr Trump reportedly snapped at chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, when he was told that bringing his Cabinet to the rally could raise issues.

The report on Mr Trump’s views towards the Hatch Act come just after Mr Trump mocked the US Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits federal office holders from accepting gifts from foreign sources.

That mocking followed after Mr Trump was forced to choose a different site for the next G7 Summit, after he was condemned for choosing his own resort in Florida for the event.

Ms Conway, who the US Office of Special Counsel recommended be removed from her office in June for violating the Hatch Act on “numerous occasions”, has mocked the idea that she would be removed for her advocacy on behalf of the president.

And, Mr Trump and Ms Conway have good reason to believe that the law may not apply, since enforcement of the law is generally undertaken by the president himself.

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