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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Illegality and the Republican Convention

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway

Trump aides proudly flout the law.

Molly Blackall at The Guardian:
Featuring an executive pardon for a bank robber turned social entrepreneur, a naturalisation ceremony for new US immigrants, and a speech from the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, during an official visit to Jerusalem, the second day of the Republican national convention led critics to accuse Donald Trump of turning politics into a series of reality TV-style stunts.
But the implications of this display of presidential power may be more serious: legal observers warned that these segments appeared to violate the Hatch Act, which prevents federal employees from taking part in political activity while on duty, and a senior Democrat on the House foreign affairs committee has launched an investigation into whether Pompeo’s appearance broke the law.
Erwin Chemerinsky at LAT:
President Trump is almost surely violating the law and certainly violating the norms of the office in giving his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention from the South Lawn of the White House. But we have become so inured to Trump’s behavior that this will likely produce little more than a shrug.
Federal law, specifically the Hatch Act, is clear that federal employees cannot participate in partisan political activities. The Hatch Act, adopted in 1939 after it was revealed that employees of the federal Works Progress Administration had been involved in congressional election campaigns the year before, broadly forbids federal civilian employees from engaging in political activities.
The Supreme Court has upheld the law as constitutional, even though it dramatically limits the speech and political activities of government employees. The court explained the importance of keeping federal employees from feeling pressured to engage in political work and of preventing officeholders from using federal workers to help their campaign
Sinead Baker at Business Insider:
Trump aides "take pride" in pushing the boundaries of ethics laws that are supposed to separate public office and political activities, The New York Times reported.
The Daily Beast, citing two former officials, said one motivation is that such acts frustrate the media with few consequences for themselves.