White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday referred questions back to the White House during a Fox News interview where she appeared as a campaign adviser.
McEnany, who has taken on an increased role as a campaign surrogate in recent weeks, would not answer a question about whether President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE has considered allowing President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFighter jet escorts aircraft that entered restricted airspace during UN gathering Julian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp MORE to receive a daily intelligence briefing.
"I haven’t spoken to the president about that," she said on "Fox & Friends."
"That would be a question more for the White House, but I will say that all laws are being followed with regard to an expected transition, though we expect to continue on as the Trump administration. We will see how our litigation goes."
"That would be a question more for the White House" -- Kayleigh McEnany works for the White House pic.twitter.com/0MsK8qRK4E— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 12, 2020
McEnany has appeared regularly on Fox in her personal capacity as a Trump 2020 campaign adviser to avoid potential Hatch Act violations, which prevent government employees from engaging in campaign activity in their official roles.
Still, her referral of questions back to the White House — where she works and receives a taxpayer-funded paycheck — raised eyebrows.
"It's getting lost in larger outrages, but @PressSec behavior is both outrageous and damaging," tweeted Joe Lockhart, who served as press secretary for then-President Clinton. "You can not be both a paid government employee and a spokesperson for the White House. It's against the law. You can't refer q's to yourself wearing a different hat. Prosecute this."
"Wait, what?!" tweeted Paula Reid, a CBS News White House correspondent. "White House Press Sec, who recieves a six figure tax-payer salary for that job, deferred a question about intelligence briefings for @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris to the White House (?!) during an appearance on FOX News where she appeared as a 'Trump campaign advisor.' "
Bradley Moss, an attorney based in Washington, D.C., argued that McEnany was technically following the law by declining to answer the question.
"Well .... technically .... if she was appearing in her personal capacity in order to avoid Hatch Act violations, she *technically* had to do that," he tweeted.
McEnany herself responded to the criticism later on Twitter, saying she was abiding by the Hatch Act.
"When you enter government, you do not lose First Amendment rights," she tweeted. "Hatch Act says to separate govt & political activity, which I diligently work to do. Reporters (who ironically have freedom of press embedded in the 1st Amendment), are complaining about my 1A right to speech!"
The Trump administration has been the subject of numerous Hatch Act complaints. The Office of Special Counsel recommended in 2019 that then-White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayCook Political Report shifts Virginia governor's race to 'toss-up' Overnight Defense & National Security — Iron Dome funding clears House Sean Spicer, Russ Vought sue Biden over Naval Board removal MORE be removed from her job for repeated violations, though no action was taken.
Updated: 9:45 a.m.