Half a dozen officials in President Donald Trump’s administration have been given the absolute gentlest of tippy-taps on the wrist by the White House’s Office of Special Counsel (not to be confused with the Justice Department’s Special Counsel’s Office—i.e. Robert Mueller), after they violated a federal law barring them from using their government positions to influence elections.
In response to a complaint filed by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington watchdog group, OSC deputy chief Erica Marick penned a hilariously formal letter stating that six White House staffers—including Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, Vice Presidential Press Secretary Alyssa Farah, and Deputy Director of Communications Jessica Ditto—had all violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits them from using their office for prohibited political activity.
And just what did they do that was so awful? According to Hamrick, five of the officials who’d violated the Hatch act did so by tweeting or retweeting some iteration of President Trump’s “MAGA” slogan from their official White House accounts. Shah’s violation, however, stemmed from his citing—and linking to—an article by the Republican National Committee, a partisan no-no.
So, what’s now going to happen to these six criminal masterminds? Per Hamrick’s letter:
Ms. Ferré deactivated the “@haferre45” Twitter account when she left the White House. And once Mses. Westerhout, Farah, and Ditto and Messrs. Wood and Shah became aware that their tweets violated the Hatch Act, they deleted the posts. Thus, although we have concluded that these six EOP employees violated the Hatch Act, we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and are closing their files without further action. They all have been advised that if in the future they engage in prohibited political activity while employed in a position covered by the Hatch Act, we will consider such activity to be a willful and knowing violation of the law, which could result in further action.
In summary: Nothing. Nothing will happen to them.
This should be pretty unsurprising, since Hatch Act violations seem pretty common in the Trump White House. Social media director Dan Scavino and communications director for the First Lady Stephanie Grisham have each been cited for using their positions for political purposes. And this past March, senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was found to have broken the law with her “implied endorsement” of accused pedophile Roy Moore during Alabama’s special election in 2017. All three continue to enjoy their position within the administration, seemingly without having suffered any adverse consequences for being scofflaws.
Which isn’t to say that everyone in the administration is a Hatch Act violator. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, and Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley were each cleared of possible violations by Hamrick’s office. Gidley, notably, managed to skate by since:
It was not until later that same day [which he’d tweeted “MAGA”] that OSC issued guidance advising that the use of #MAGA constitutes political activity now that President Trump has begun his reelection campaign.
In any case, there are still plenty of other laws this snakepit of sycophants and enablers can—and probably have–still break. So, let’s not count our chickens before they Hatch.