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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.

Go deeper

McConnell defends Trump's refusal to concede to Biden

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) celebrated Republicans' congressional victories and defended President Trump's refusal to concede to Joe Biden, saying on the Senate floor Monday that Trump has "every right to look into allegations and request recounts."

The state of play: As of Monday afternoon, only four Republican senators — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) — had congratulated Biden on his projected victory.

Leaked call audio shows Trump officials denying election results

Trump on election night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Top Trump loyalists are trying to cling to power by firing critics, rehiring other loyalists, instructing federal government employees that the election isn't over yet, and threatening appointees that their future work prospects could get crushed if they try to abandon ship now.

Driving the news: In leaked audio of a Monday conference call with USAID staff, obtained by Axios, the agency's top-ranking official John Barsa told staff to "play until the whistle blows" and that "DC, at the end of the day, is a really small town" — which participants read as a threat to anyone who starts job hunting.

Updated Nov 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Schumer, McConnell re-elected as Senate leaders

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Senate Democratic caucus re-elected Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and added Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) to its leadership ranks, a Senate Democratic source tells Axios.

Why it matters: The re-election of the full Senate Democratic leadership team comes after a relatively disappointing general election in which the party failed to win outright control of the Senate, despite record amounts of fundraising. Democrats still have a chance to become the Senate majority if they win a pair of Georgia runoffs in January.