Kellyanne Conway and Mike Pompeo among 13 Trump aides who campaigned illegally, federal investigation finds – .

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One of the top U.S. government ethics watchers discovered that 13 senior Trump administration officials – including Kellyanne Conway and Mike Pompeo – had violated federal laws prohibiting government employees from using federal resources to do so. campaign for political candidates.
The report, released by the Office of the Special Counsel, found that the violations were committed by senior Trump administration officials who, under current law, could only be sanctioned by the then president, Donald Trump, who refused to enforce the law (known as the Hatch Act) against his top lieutenants on several occasions.

“The cases described here demonstrate both the willingness of some members of the Trump administration to leverage the power of the executive to promote President Trump’s re-election and the limits on the enforcement power of the CSO under the existing legislative regime to prevent them from doing so, ”the special advocate said. Henry Kerner wrote.

“While the specific facts of each case are different, they share this fundamental commonality: senior officials in the Trump administration have chosen to use their official authority not for legitimate government functions, but to promote the re-election of the government. President Trump in violation of the law ”.

Mr Kerner, who was appointed to his post by the former president, determined that Trump officials “intentionally ignored the requirements of the law and tacitly or expressly approved of senior administration officials breaking the law.” .

The Hatch Act is a 1932 statute that prohibits federal employees (other than the president and vice president) from making statements for or against political candidates while speaking in an official capacity. It was adopted during Franklin Roosevelt’s first term over fears his administration would pressure members of the expanding federal workforce to vote for his re-election.

The Office of Special Counsel is an independent body responsible for enforcing the Hatch Act and protecting federal whistleblowers. He is not part of the Justice Department and has nothing to do with prosecutors appointed as special advisers, such as former FBI Director Robert Mueller or current Special Advisor John Durham.

According to the report, many violations of the Trump administration’s Hatch Act were committed during media interviews or television events such as the 2020 Republican National Convention.

A major violation found by the OSC was committed by then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a speech from Jerusalem at the RNC in which Mr. Pompeo “ [used] his official authority by repeatedly referring to the work of the State Department ”.

Another violation over the RNC came at the hands of then Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who the OSC said broke the law “by presiding over a naturalization ceremony orchestrated for the purpose of to create content for the convention ”.

“Each has taken official acts in connection with President Trump’s re-election campaign,” Kerner wrote, adding that both violations “apparently stemmed from demands from the White House – or, in the case of Secretary Pompeo , probably from the Trump campaign or from President Trump himself ”. .

Such demands reflected “the Trump administration’s willingness to manipulate government affairs for partisan political purposes,” he concluded.

The report also found that the Trump administration “tacitly or expressly approved of senior officials violating Hatch Law by campaigning for President Trump’s re-election” on the basis of the “administration’s refusal to hold officials accountable for their violations, the frequency and similarity of the violations, and the fact that some administration officials have repeatedly ignored the advice they received from the CSO ”.

Mr Kerner cited the example of ex-adviser to President Kellyanne Conway, who in 2019 was the subject of an unprecedented CSO report recommending her dismissal for “multiple and flagrant violations” of the Hatch Act. .

Noting that Mr. Trump had refused to act on his previous recommendation, he wrote that it “was up to President Trump to discipline employees where appropriate”, but Mr. Trump “did not.”

“Instead, he defended and supported even the most egregious of offenders. In doing so, the administration has sent a clear message to officials in the same predicament: there will be no consequences for breaking the law by campaigning on behalf of President Trump and other Republican candidates at the expense of government officials. taxpayers, ”he wrote.

“Based on the Trump administration’s response to the violations, the OSC concludes that the most logical inference is that the administration approved these taxpayer-funded campaign activities. The OSC further concludes that these violations likely would not have occurred if the Trump administration had made it clear to senior officials that they must act in accordance with the Hatch Act and that there would be consequences for any violation of the Hatch Act. this “.

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