Speed Reads

RNC 2020

Trump is giving his main RNC speech from the White House because it 'makes me feel good'

"Trailing in the polls and struggling to find a message, President Trump is leveraging one of the most powerful assets he has left — his White House office — in service of his re-election bid, obliterating the lines between governing and campaigning and testing legal boundaries in ways that go well beyond his predecessors," David Nakamura writes at The Washington Post. He has publicly roped the U.S. Postal Service and federal law enforcement into his re-election bid, and this week he will give his main Republican National Convention speech from the White House, pushing past rules or traditions on the use of the White House for partisan campaigning he already tread on during a Rose Garden speech in July.

The RNC, which begins its televised prime time show Monday night, has had to quickly adjust its convention format from in-person to virtual amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After Trump decided to give his speech from the White House, Democrats objected and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel responded that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are exempt from the civil regulations under the Hatch Act, a decades-old law that prohibits government employees from participating in some political activities.

First lady Melania Trump will also address the RNC from the White House, giving her speech in the newly renovated Rose Garden on Tuesday. "Trump aides said that the White House venues being used are considered part of the residence, and therefore are authorized for political use," The New York Times reports, though some of "Trump's aides privately scoff at the Hatch Act and say they take pride in violating its regulations."

Trump himself has justified using the White House for his RNC stage as a convenience that he argued would save taxpayers money, presumably in travel costs. He also told the New York Post last week that he had passed on traveling to a federal site in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, because speaking from the White House "makes me feel good. It makes the country feel good."

Pence will speak from another federal property, Fort McHenry in Maryland, on Wednesday, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will apparently address the RNC while on an official trip to Israel, an usual move for America's top diplomat. Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel declined to say Sunday whether taxpayers will be reimbursed for Pompeo's involvement in the RNC.