Aug 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump defends idea of accepting Republican nomination at White House

President Trump on Wednesday defended the idea of delivering his Republican nomination speech from the White House, claiming it would save "tremendous amounts of money for the government in terms of security and traveling."

Why it matters: A number of Republicans, not to mention Democrats, have questioned both the optics and the legality of Trump delivering his acceptance speech from the White House, given past presidents have drawn a firm line between the White House and presidential campaigns.

What he's saying: "It is legal. There is no Hatch Act because it doesn't pertain to the president," Trump said at a briefing, referring to the law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while on official duty.

  • "If we go to another state or some other location, the amount of money is very enormous. So that's something to consider also. I think it would be a very convenient location, and it would be by far the least expensive location."

Between the lines: Earlier Wednesday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to dial back on the idea, acknowledging that it would not be appropriate for Trump to deliver the speech from an "official place" of the White House where business is conducted.

  • Meadows argued, however, that it would "certainly" be appropriate if Trump delivers the speech from the East Wing, telling CNN: "Part of the House is official, where we conduct business. Then you go over to the East Wing, and that's the private residence."
  • "And so doing those kinds of things that would be more political in nature from the East Wing is certainly an appropriate place to do it if he chooses to do that," he added. "But listen, those decisions have not been made yet. I can tell you that as we look at it, I don't expect there to be an address from the Oval Office."

What Republicans are saying:

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): “I would have to have somebody show me where it says he can do that. I would think on government property, that would be problematic.”
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.): "It's probably not allowed ... he probably shouldn’t do it.”
  • Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.): “Is that even legal? … I assume that's not something that you could do. … I think anything you do on federal property would seem to be problematic."

The state of play: Republican National Convention planners are looking for a new venue for Trump to deliver his acceptance speech after the convention was canceled in Jacksonville, Florida, over coronavirus concerns.

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