Meadows dismisses criticism of Trump using White House for acceptance speech
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Friday swatted away criticism of President Trump giving his Republican National Convention speech at the White House, saying nothing was improper about the setting.
“I can tell you that all the criticism that comes out against this president is from the normal suspects,” he said on Fox News. “Let’s face it, there was not a single federal dollar that was spent on the convention last night, it was paid for by the political campaign, by the Republican National Committee, and when you look at that, if we’re looking at a backdrop, and to suggest the backdrop is not appropriate because somehow it indicates a conflict of interest, it’s just not accurate.”
Meadows added that former President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his acceptance speech from the White House in the 1940 presidential election.
Trump has come under withering criticism from Democrats and ethics experts over his use of the White House for convention events throughout the week, claiming his actions violate the Hatch Act, the federal law barring public officials from using their official platforms for political purposes. The law includes exceptions for the president and vice president.
The White House has maintained that no rules were violated since Trump and other officials who spoke at the convention did so in their personal capacities. They’ve also downplayed the extent to which voters care about using the White House as a setting for convention events.
“What it’s really designed to do is to make sure that people like myself and others do not use their political position to try to convince other employees, other federal employees that they need to vote one way, register one way or campaign another way. We have taken it well beyond the original intent of the Hatch Act,” Meadows said earlier this week when asked about the controversy surrounding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s convention speech, which he gave during a trip to Israel.
“Nobody outside really cares,” Meadows added.
Still, this week’s remarks mark a reversal for the chief of staff, who had initially advocated for Trump’s acceptance speech to take place far away from the White House.
“Those decisions are still in flux, but I can tell you what I’m advocating for is miles and miles away from here,” he said earlier this month.