Dem senator seeks probe of Trump aide's tweet

Dem senator seeks probe of Trump aide's tweet
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Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Inhofe defends Pruitt after criticisms | Agency releases study on water contaminant | Trump rescinds Obama ocean policy Dems press EPA nominees on ethics, climate Overnight Energy: Senate panel sets Pruitt hearing | Colorado joins California with tougher emissions rules | Court sides with Trump on coal leasing program MORE (D-Del.) has asked the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to probe whether a White House aide violated the Hatch Act by calling for a primary challenge to Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashGOP rep refutes Trump's account of Sanford attacks: 'People were disgusted' Trump claims Sanford remarks booed by lawmakers were well-received GOP congressman blasts Trump’s attack on Sanford as ‘classless’ MORE (R-Mich.).

“While the Hatch Act prohibits covered employees from engaging in political activity in an official capacity at any time, or while on duty or in the workplace, there are additional restrictions for covered employees in their personal capacity,” Carper wrote in the letter dated April 7 and released Tuesday.

“Although Mr. Scavino used his personal Twitter account, and not his official White House Twitter account, these two accounts are nearly indistinguishable," he added.

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Scavino, the White House director of social media, called Amash "a big liability" in a tweet early this month, urging Trump supporters to "defeat him in primary."

"@realDonaldTrump is bringing auto plants & jobs back to Michigan. @justinamash is a big liability. #TrumpTrain, defeat him in primary," Scavino tweeted.

The comment was made in the wake of a standoff between the White House and members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, including Amash, who opposed the GOP's ObamaCare replacement bill last month.

Scavino's tweet was criticized by several legal experts who said it appeared to violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials from using their position to influence an election.

The tweet was sent from Scavino's "personal" account, though many pointed to the account's profile picture at the time – which showed the aide inside the White House – in arguing that it violated the Hatch Act. The aide's picture on his official and personal account have since been changed.

"Look at the official photo on this page. Read the Hatch Act and fire this man NOW. Someone call OSC," Richard Painter, a former chief White House ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration, tweeted at the time.

"This is use of official position to influence an election. Look at the photo and description underneath. Bush WH would have fired him," he added.

Carper in his letter urged the OSC to investigate Scavino's tweet, arguing that the Trump aide's twitter account gave an impression that he was "acting in an official capacity."

"Both his official and personal Twitter accounts use the same profile and background images, which, as of the date of Mr. Scavino’s tweet, are, respectively, an image of Mr. Scavino in the Oval Office and of President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased 'tapes' of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea MORE giving a speech in front of the America flag," he said.

"Mr. Scavino’s nearly identical Twitter pages could easily create the impression that he is acting in an official capacity when engaging in political activity on his personal account.”