July 1, 2022

Democrats look for ethical law to offer possible Trump prosecution plan

According to a report by The Hill, federal investigators are looking for a potential way to criminally prosecute Former President Donald Trump due to his efforts to nullify the 2020 election results.

Legal experts cited by the publication say that there is an old ethics law that was violated by Trump’s nearest and dearest in the political world, and it could be what his opposition uses to prosecute the former president.

Because the Hatch Act prohibits electioneering by executive branch officials, this also prohibits them from promoting the president’s political interests while in the course of their formal duties.

Some believe this was regularly violated by the Trump Administration while in office, and in the two months between the presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021 reboots on Capitol Hill.

The ethics law has been used for administration purposes almost exclusively since the 1930s, but the criminal provision to the law could form a way of prosecuting the former president.

Norm Eisen, who served as special counsel to Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment, offered his opinion of the president’s administration leading up to Jan. 6, calling it part of a “disturbing and endemic pattern of conduct by Trump enablers in the White House that implicates the Hatch Act, including criminal aspects.”

“This is no exception. It may be the culmination and the worst example,” he said of events and statements around the Capitol riot.

“The problem is that criminal prosecution is really unusual. But everything that happened at the end of the Trump White House was also unusually wrong, and I think it is already the subject of criminal review. So given that context I think it is quite likely that prosecutors will take a fresh look at the Hatch Act among other potential remedies that have been more extensively discussed publicly.”

Other officials, including Donald Sherman, chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, weighed in:

“The administrative version of the Hatch Act and the criminal version of the Hatch Act exists to make sure that there there’s clear guidance and a clear prohibition on officials using their government jobs to help facilitate any candidate for elective office winning or holding on to their power,” said Sherman.

“And it seems quite clear from the facts available, that that was not just something that Mark Meadows did, but it was his primary focus as White House chief of staff in the days and weeks after the 2020 election,” he added. I mean, to call it a textbook case of a Hatch Act violation is a bit too on the nose. I think it’s far beyond what Congress or OSC or really anyone could have envisioned in terms of the worst-case scenario of an abuse of this principle.”

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