US Office of Special Counsel Opens Investigation Into Trump Campaign's Use of White House

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating President Donald Trump's campaign for its use of the White House on Election Day. Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey asked the office to investigate the campaign for possible Hatch Act violations. The campaign used space in the Eisenhower Executive Office as a "war room" Tuesday night. The Hatch Act forbids federal property from being used for campaign events, and members of the Trump Administration have been accused of violating it in the past.

After hearing news reports that the administration planned to have a "war room" on the White House grounds, Pascrell sent a letter to U.S. Special Counsel Henry Kerner, calling for an investigation into a possible Hatch Act violation. "I write urgently demanding an explanation of whether Donald Trump and members of the executive branch are breaking the law on Election Day," Pascrell wrote on Wednesday. The New Jersey Democrat later added that Trump is "expected to be briefed in the White House residence and the Oval Office throughout the day by campaign officials." Both of these actions are "blatant violations of the law," Pascrell wrote.

In its response on Thursday, the Special Counsel office told Pascrell it was "not consulted" by the Trump campaign or the administration on its decision to use Eisenhower Executive Office Building space for "war room." The Office's "Hatch Act Unit has opened an investigation into these allegations to determine if the Hatch Act was violated," the office's response read. Pascrell welcomed the investigation to learn if Trump and the executive branch, "flagrantly broke the law."

Following The New York Times' Tuesday report on the war room, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said there was "no expense" to taxpayers to use the federal building's space. The war room "needed to be in close proximity" to the president, Murtaugh said. "Every piece of equipment, including WiFi and computers, was paid for by the campaign, and no White House staff is involved," Murtaugh said. "The arrangement has been approved by White House counsel."

0comments

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is also investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for possible Hatch Act violations, The Hill reported on Oct. 26. The investigation centers on Pompeo's pre-recorded speech from Israel that aired during the Republican National Convention and was filmed on official diplomatic travel. Pompeo defended the speech, saying it was recorded in a personal capacity and was approved by State Department lawyers. House Democrats disagreed, saying he politicized the State Department, and they began their own investigation on possible Hatch Act violations in August.

As of Friday afternoon, ballots that could decide the election are still being counted in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Alaska. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is on track to beat Trump, with 253 Electoral College votes called for Biden so far, reports CBS News. Trump has 213 Electoral College votes called for him.