WH: Naturalization Ceremony At RNC Didn’t Violate Hatch Act Because It Was ‘Publicly Available Content’

(Screencap: RNC/YouTube)
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August 26, 2020 8:47 a.m.

The White House insisted on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s naturalization ceremony at the Republican National Convention (RNC) that night wasn’t a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive government officials from participating in political activity while on duty.

“The White House publicized the content of the event on a public website this afternoon and the campaign decided to use the publicly available content for campaign purposes,” a White House official told TPM in an emailed statement sent on Wednesday morning. “There was no violation of law.”

Critics sounded the alarm on Tuesday after President Donald Trump and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf held a naturalization ceremony for five candidates at the White House in the middle of the convention.

“On behalf of everyone here today, I’d like to express my gratitude to you, Mr. President, for hosting this naturalization ceremony here at the White House,” Wolf told Trump before administering the Oath of Allegiance.

Afterward, Wolf praised Trump’s “dedication to the rule of law.”

“Mr. President, I want to again commend you for your dedication to the rule of law and for restoring integrity to our immigration system,” the administration official told Trump. “Thank you for hosting such a patriotic celebration here at the White House today.”

The ceremony was one of several incidents at the convention that raised concerns over Trump and his administration using the powers of the federal government for political purposes. Other potential violations of the Hatch Act on Tuesday included Trump issuing a presidential pardon for an RNC speaker and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving his remarks from Jerusalem.

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