A watchdog group alleges that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will ban TikTok from operating in the US Trump’s 2019 financial disclosure reveals revenue at Mar-a-Lago, other major clubs Treasury to conduct policy review of tax-exempt status for universities after Trump tweets MORE’s senior policy adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerStephen Miller criticizes Obama for ‘shockingly political’ remarks at John Lewis funeral GOP senators push for stimulus checks to almost 2M excluded Americans Democrats see immigration reform as topping Biden agenda MORE violated federal law when he made comments on Friday about presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Three arrested in Twitter hack | Trump pushes to break up TikTok | House approves 0M for election security Wisconsin Republicans raise questions about death of Black Trump supporter Trump holds mini-rally at Florida airport MORE.
The complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) calls for an investigation into Miller’s comments criticizing Biden on Fox News.
“This administration continues to use its official powers improperly to assist the president’s re-election and to chip away at the checks and balances that preserve our democracy,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.
“It is well past time for those like Stephen Miller, who show an open disdain for ethics laws like the Hatch Act and who illegally use official resources to promote the president’s re-election bid, to be held accountable for their actions.”
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
The Hatch Act bars federal employees from certain partisan political activity that could influence an election while using their official titles. Those found to have violated it can be fined as much as $1,000 and face disciplinary actions such as suspension or termination.
The complaint highlights comments Miller made during a “Fox & Friends” interview, during which he was seen standing on the White House grounds and was identified by his official title.
Miller was discussing a variety of issues, including Trump’s claims about voting by mail and ongoing protests in Portland, Ore., before he was asked to comment on former President Obama’s eulogy for the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisPelosi: Trump trying ‘to suppress the vote’ with attacks on mail-in ballots One way we can honor John Lewis’ legacy: Amend the 13th Amendment Stephen Miller criticizes Obama for ‘shockingly political’ remarks at John Lewis funeral MORE (D-Ga.).
The adviser lashed out at the former president, saying the speech was “shockingly political” and “scandalously, outrageously false.”
Fox host Brian Kilmeade noted that Miller is “not necessarily on the campaign side, political side” but asked if the president feels like he is running against Obama or Biden.
“Well, as you know Joe Biden is stuck in a basement somewhere and he just emerges every now and against and somebody hands him a notecard and he says whatever his 23-year-old staffer tells him to say and then he dutifully disappears to be seen a week later,” Miller said. “As for former President Obama, the reality is that for eight years he delivers nothing but failure and betrayal to the people of this country.”
CREW alleges in the complaint that Miller likely violated the Hatch Act by mixing official government business with his political views about Biden.
“There is also no doubt that Miller’s statements were aimed at influencing the success or failure of a candidate in a partisan election,” CREW wrote. “Miller responded to a question specifically prefaced as ‘political’ in nature related to Biden by attacking the presumptive Democratic nominee for president as being stuck in the basement and taking direction from young staffers.”
The Trump campaign also used the clip of Miller’s appearance on social media.
Senior Advisor Stephen Miller: Obama and Biden delivered “failure and betrayal” to the people of this country pic.twitter.com/2OtfBXa3MM
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) July 31, 2020
Several other Trump officials have been accused of violating the Hatch Act, including the president’s daughter Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpIvanka and Kushner earned at least M in outside income last year: financial disclosures Administration is leading the way in empowering women and girls Don’t we believe in the ‘marketplace of ideas’ any longer? MORE and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerIvanka and Kushner earned at least M in outside income last year: financial disclosures Overnight Health Care: Five takeaways from Fauci’s testimony | CDC: Children might play ‘important role’ in spreading COVID-19 | GOP leader wants rapid testing at Capitol Trump raises idea of delaying election MORE, who both serve in the White House as his senior advisers.
The watchdog group filed a complaint against White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMcConnell: Dropping liability protections from coronavirus deal ‘not going to happen’ On The Money: Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock | Meadows, Pelosi trade criticism on stalled stimulus talks | Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding Pelosi defends cannabis in coronavirus response: ‘This is a therapy’ MORE in July for also making disparaging comments about Biden, as well as offering an apparent endorsement of a Republican congressional candidate.
CREW compared Meadows’s conduct with the OSC’s description of Hatch Act violations committed by White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayHillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom Meme group joins with Lincoln Project in new campaign against Trump Latest Lincoln Project ad: ‘It’s Trump’s virus now’ MORE last year.
A 17-page report submitted to the White House found that Conway violated the law in more than half a dozen television interviews and tweets by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity.”
The OSC publicly said Conway should be removed from office, calling her a “repeat offender” who has flouted the law barring federal employees from engaging in political activity in their official duties.
Trump rebuked the recommendation and said he would not fire Conway for the violations.