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 CarperTrump Jr. to Dem Senator: 'You admitted to hitting your wife so hard it gave her a black eye!' Melania Trump's spokeswoman gets Hatch Act warning for #MAGA tweet EPA to abandon restrictions against chemical linked to climate change 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 AmashRand Paul ramps up his alliance with Trump Ethics watchdog requests probe into Trump officials traveling to campaign events Kavanaugh’s views on privacy, Fourth Amendment should make Republicans think twice 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 TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown 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.”