On Thursday, Politico reported that the House Oversight Committee has sent a letter to the Office of Special Counsel demanding clarification on “criminal statutes” surrounding President Donald Trump’s decision to give his RNC acceptance speech on the White House lawn.
In particular, they believe that the speech could raise legal problems distinct from the Hatch Act, which forbids government officials from campaigning with government resources or in an official capacity.
“The revelation came in a follow-up letter sent Monday to House Democrats by the Office of Special Counsel, which oversees Hatch Act compliance. The letter clarified that while the office had previously confirmed Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are exempt from the Hatch Act, it could not answer questions about other ‘criminal provisions,'” reported Anita Kumar. “‘That opinion, which noted that the President and Vice President are not covered by any of the provisions of the Hatch Act, is limited to the civil provisions of the Hatch Act and does not opine on criminal provisions found in Title 18 of the U.S. Code,’ reads the previously unreported letter, which was sent to House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney.”
The law in question criminalizes any effort to “intimidate, threaten, command or coerce” government employees to engage in political activity — which, unlike the Hatch Act, doesn’t exempt the president and vice president.
Trump chose the White House to deliver his convention speech following the collapse of plans to hold an in-person convention in Jacksonville, Florida, currently experiencing a coronavirus outbreak. The Jacksonville plan itself was conceived after a dispute between Trump and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper over public health restrictions on the convention, which was originally to take place in Charlotte.