RNC Night Two: Let's Count The Federal Crimes!
Breaking the law for the Law and Order 'president.'
The second night of the Republican National Convention was a bit less batshit than the first night, in part because Kimberly Guiilfoyle had been led back to her enclosure at the Shrieking Death-Ghoul Aviary. Instead, the speakers mostly delivered their warnings of impending culture war in quieter tones, with multiple parts of the evening dedicated to overt violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits use of government resources for campaign purposes. It was a bit like the Trump administration itself: When they're not shouting, they're blithely breaking laws in plain sight. After three and a half years of Trump, though, nobody really seems surprised anymore, including the nice folks at Politico who shrugged and yawned thusly:
HERE'S SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Of course, much of this is improper, and, according to most every straight-faced expert, it's a violation of the Hatch Act. It's incumbent upon the news media to point that out. But do you think a single person outside the Beltway gives a hoot about the president politicking from the White House or using the federal government to his political advantage? Do you think any persuadable voter even notices?
Golly, if only we could think how we got to that point. Probably Obama's fault, or maybe it's because Hillary Clinton had that private email server, which set such a bad example for impressionable Republicans.
Even without the shouting, it was a big smorgasbord of lies, as you'd expect, capped off by Melania Trump herself saying "Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president."
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was there to rehash a whole bunch of long-debunked accusations about Hunter Biden and Ukraine, and to warn us that we can't possibly risk having a president whose family might profit off public office. That at least led to a nice round of Fun With Chyrons:
“How many families would be allowed to get away with that?” Pam Bondi asks of nepotism. CNN’s lower chyron offers a… https: //t.co/QojFak9q4W
— Daniel Fienberg (@Daniel Fienberg) 1598405580.0
And let's not forget that Bondi, who is aghast at corruption, actually dropped an investigation of Trump University's sleazy business practices in Florida after she got a nice (and illegal!) campaign contribution from Donald Trump's grifty foundation. Life is funny that way.
While keeping the fact-checkers busy, the evening's festivities also included a number of celebratory violations of that silly ol' Hatch Act, which is for little people, not actual "presidents." And it especially has nothing to do with a "president" who keeps repeating that the Rule Of Law must be be upheld at the border — as violently as possible — or we may as well have no laws at all.
Trump himself used the White House, probably illegally, as the backdrop for two official acts as part of the RNC last night. He pardoned a convicted bank robber who got his life together, and didn't even commit any crimes for Trump, so that's something. Trump also held a citizenship swearing-in for five immigrants who were doubtless vetted to within an inch of their lives. Both ceremonies not only probably violated the Hatch Act, but embodied Trump's casual indifference to following normal governing procedures. The pardon, like most Trump pardons, went to a guy whose story Trump found interesting, and so he "bypassed the traditional pardon system, in which convicted people appeal to the Justice Department."
And while other presidents have held naturalization ceremonies at the White House, usually on Independence Day or some other holiday, this one was part of a reelection campaign. The oath was led by (acting) DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, whose own appointment was found to be illegal by a Government Accountability Office review, not that Trump intends to pay any attention to that. While he was at it, the illegally serving DHS head did his own little bit of campaigning for the Great Man, praising Trump for his "dedication to the rule of law" and for "restoring integrity to our immigration system."
Mike Pompeo beamed in by satellite with a norm-shattering pro-Trump speech from Jerusalem, to remind Trump's evangelical base that Trump will do all he can to hurry along the Second Coming of Christ, which was why the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem anyway. (Remember when Trump said he'd done it "for the Evangelicals," who were "more excited by that than Jewish people"? It was over a week ago, so it's ancient history.) Pompeo lied a bit about how Trump had single-handedly eliminated ISIS (which of course he didn't ) and put North Korea in its place (with love letters), but as New York magazine observed, Pompeo's entire Hatch Act-violating show "could have been boiled down to the words: 'Here I am in Jerusalem.'" Mission accomplished! Also, the speech is now the subject of an investigation in the House, so we're sure Pompeo will comply with subpoenas.
Melania Trump's speech last night, from the recently renovated and uglified White House Rose Garden, was one more use of government facilities for a political campaign. She actually did accomplish something new: For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, and after 175,000 Americans have died, someone in the Executive Mansion finally said "My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one. [...] I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone." It's more than her husband has done in six months, so there's that.
Of course, it was difficult not to remember that she also flew off to visit her husband's concentration camps for immigrant kids while wearing a jacket saying "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?" So let's not overplay that empathy thing. As for norms and the rule of law, it appears the whole country is wearing the same jacket, including the New York Times, which probably got around to noting laws were broken, but suggested that's just a guy using his tools:
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