Congressional Democrats find themselves unable to move any legislation as long as Mitch “The Grim Reaper” McConnell is in charge of the Senate so it looks like they are going to keep themselves busy with investigations. And calls for investigations, too.
Recently Trump Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway was found to be in violation of the Hatch Act by the Office of Special Counsel. The OSC recommended that she be terminated but so far President Trump and others at the White House are sticking by her. Their reason is that Kellyanne is just using her First Amendment right to free speech. A couple of days ago I wrote about some hypocrisy on display as 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Julian Castro called for her termination, too. He was also found guilty of violating the Hatch Act but he remained on the job and Obama didn’t fire him. Castro claims it was just all a mistake and it served as a learning experience for him. A double standard is alive and well in Washington, D.C.
Now two Democrats in the House are asking for an investigation into Jared Kushner’s alleged improper fundraising activities. Rep. Ted Lieu and Rep. Don Beyer cite an article in the New York Times as proof that Kushner is violating the Hatch Act. The two men sent a letter Monday to Special Counsel Henry Kerner requesting that his office open an investigation into claims that Kushner is improperly taking a direct role in fundraising for Trump’s re-election campaign. If the NYT piece is correct (granted, not a certainty), Kushner is none too happy about RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s close working relationship with President Trump and how she’s running fundraising efforts.
Amid policy missteps and at the risk of frustrating President Trump, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has set his sights on what he has described to people as a new problem in need of his attention: fund-raising for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Specifically, Mr. Kushner has cast a disapproving eye on the fund-raising apparatus run primarily by the Republican National Committee, and its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, whose close relationship with Mr. Trump is said to irk him. At a dinner he organized last month in the White House residence, Mr. Kushner brought together Ms. McDaniel; Brad Parscale, the campaign manager; and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who ran Mr. Trump’s fund-raising in 2016, along with a group of big donors like Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group, to discuss the fund-raising strategy for 2020.
No one has voiced agreement with Kushner, though, that the RNC is having trouble raising money for Trump’s re-election campaign. As a matter of fact, that was not the opinion held by the others in the room if the article is correct.
In fact, R.N.C. officials noted, the committee is on track to have raised roughly $400 million since 2017, compared with the Democratic National Committee’s $203.2 million in the same time frame. Reading the room, Mr. Kushner tried to turn the meeting over to Ms. McDaniel, but she replied that she was not the one who had organized it.
The dinner was described by a half-dozen people with knowledge of what took place. They also noted that Mr. Kushner scheduled it in the private residence without extending an invitation to the first lady, Melania Trump, or Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor who served as Mr. Trump’s campaign manager in 2016.
Well, at least Kellyanne won’t get dragged into this investigation if the Special Counsel opens one up. The two complaining Democrats accuse Kushner of “holding “multiple daily conversations” from the West Wing with Brad Parscale, the president’s 2020 campaign manager.”
“These reports strongly suggest that Kushner is violating the Hatch Act,” the congressmen said in a letter addressed to Special Counsel Henry Kerner, adding that the decades-old law bars all executive branch employees besides the president and the vice president from using their official capacities to engage in overtly partisan messaging or activities.
Kushner, who’s Trump’s son-in-law, serves as a senior White House adviser on a range of issues.
Spokespeople for the White House and Trump’s 2020 campaign did not return requests for comment. A spokesman for Kerner confirmed his office had received the letter but declined to comment further, citing confidentially concerns.
I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of the Hatch Act. Does anyone, though, think that President Trump will fire Jared, the husband of his beloved daughter Ivanka, even if he is found to be in violation of the Hatch Act? If he’s willing to give Kellyanne a pass, at least so far, then I can only assume he’ll do the same for his son-in-law.
Kushner publicly denies any friction between Ronna McDaniel and himself.
In a statement, Mr. Kushner said that he harbored no concerns about the committee’s performance. “The R.N.C. under Ronna’s leadership has done historic work and President Trump is well served with her at the helm,” he said.
And the committee, according to Michael Ahrens, a spokesman, “has a great working relationship with the team at the White House.” He added that it is “because of President Trump’s long list of accomplishments and the leadership of Chairwoman McDaniel that we’re able to break fund-raising records month after month.”
Reps Lieu and Beyer specifically referenced Kellyanne’s violations in their letter to Special Counsel Kerner about Jared and, well, Kushner doesn’t even warrant the benefit of the doubt.
“The larger context of Trump administration officials failing to comply, being previously reprimanded by OSC, and, in some cases, openly flouting Hatch Act requirements also argues against giving senior administration officials benefit of the doubt when considering potential violations,” the Democrats wrote.
That sums up the political environment in 2019. There is no presumption of innocence anymore. We’ll have to wait and see if Kerner decides to open an investigation.