President Trump says using White House to accept GOP nomination would not be a Hatch Act violation
Trump says using the White House would save tremendous amounts of money for the government.
President Trump played down fears from a Republican senator that him giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination from the White House could be illegal as a violation of the Hatch Act.
“It is legal, there is no Hatch Act because it doesn't pertain to the president,” Trump responded in a coronavirus press conference when asked about Sen. John Thune’s concerns.
President Trump said Wednesday that his campaign is considering having him deliver his Republican National Convention nomination acceptance speech at the White House as coronavirus pandemic concerns have largely prevented the party from holding an in-person event.
“Is that even legal?” Thune, R-S.D., said when asked about Trump’s potential plan to use government property for a political purpose.
"I assume there's some Hatch Act issues or something," Thune continued while talking to reporters on Wednesday. "I don't know the answer to that but I haven't, and I haven't heard him say that. But I think anything you do on federal property would seem to be problematic.”
The Hatch Act bars federal employees from using federal property for political purposes. Trump is correct that the president and vice president are not subject to the Hatch Act, but other federal employees may be unable to help make the speech Trump gives after he is nominated by the Republican National Committee (RNC) happen on White House property.
"We're thinking about it," Trump first said when asked about the possibility during a "Fox & Friends" interview.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN CONSIDERING POSSIBLE CONVENTION ACCEPTANCE SPEECH FROM WHITE HOUSE LAWN
Trump said the idea of using the White House was “something we threw out that would be cost-conscious.”
“If I use the White House we save money for the government in terms of security. If we go somewhere else the amount of money is enormous. That's something to consider also, it would be a convenient location.”
Last month, the Trump campaign and the RNC dramatically downscaled the convention by canceling planned celebratory events in Jacksonville, Fla., amid a surge in cases in the state, and refocused their attention to convention business back in the original site of Charlotte, N.C.
"We're thinking about doing it from the White House because there's no movement," Trump continued on “Fox & Friends.” "It's easy and I think it's a beautiful setting and we are thinking about that it's certainly one of the alternatives. It's the easiest alternative. I love the building."
He added: "I think it's a great place and greatly representative of our nation. It would by far be the least expensive from the country's standpoint because, it really is, it's a big deal when you get up and move all of this apparatus."
The Washington Post first reported the South Lawn as a possible location for Trump’s nationally televised nomination acceptance speech.
Trump, also in the interview, said the first night of the convention would be held in Charlotte, N.C., and media would be allowed in. He added that there will be virtual live speeches from around the country on the convention's other nights.
"The first lady' making a speech, numerous people are making speeches, senators, a lot of very, very terrific people. We have a brilliant, terrific speakers list," Trump said. "Some of the warrior congressmen that you've watched. Jim Jordan and so many others. Matt Gaetz. These guys were warriors."
Trump said his address would happen the Thursday night of the convention – the final night of the three-day event that runs from Aug. 24-27.
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The Democratic National Convention, which was pushed back a month and is scheduled to start on Aug. 17, is still being held in Milwaukee, but most delegates and members of Congress will participate virtually.
Fox News' Tyler Olson and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
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