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Top White House trade adviser violated Hatch Act, watchdog finds

Top White House trade adviser violated Hatch Act, watchdog finds
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The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the federal government’s internal watchdog, on Monday accused President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE’s top trade adviser of repeatedly flouting a ban on executive branch employees using their office for political purposes.

Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, violated the Hatch Act by criticizing President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenIntercept bureau chief: minimum wage was not 'high priority' for Biden in COVID-19 relief South Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Obama alum Seth Harris to serve as Biden labor adviser: report MORE and advocating for Trump’s reelection while speaking in his capacity as a top administration official, according to an OSC report released Monday.

The Hatch Act bars executive branch employees from campaigning or engaging in political activity in anything but their personal capacity. The OSC cited six media interviews leading up to the election and a handful of tweets in which Navarro made explicitly political comments while also discussing policy on behalf of the president.

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Navarro was also warned twice before several of the violating comments, the OSC said.

“Dr. Navarro’s violations of the Hatch Act were knowing and willful,” the OSC wrote. “Dr. Navarro’s attempt to influence voters in the 2020 presidential election, while speaking as a representative of their government, is just what the Hatch Act is intended to prevent.”

Most of Navarro’s alleged violations of the Hatch Act involve baselessly accusing Biden of being subservient to the Chinese government and pushing manufacturing jobs out of the U.S. He also claimed Biden’s economic policies would destroy the U.S. economy and bashed Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisElla Emhoff, inauguration designer join forces on knitwear collaboration Who is the Senate parliamentarian and why is she important? In America, women are frontliners of change MORE as a “mouthpiece” who should not be taken seriously.

Navarro’s conduct was the subject of an October complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit watchdog group.

The White House declined to comment.

Navarro is the latest of several Trump administration officials to be reprimanded or investigated for violating the Hatch Act, including Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChina plays the Trump card, but Biden is not buying it Trump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Green New Deal's 3 billion ton problem: sourcing technology metals MORE, Education Secretary Betsy DeVosBetsy DeVosCardona seeks to pivot from DeVos era at Education Senate confirms Biden's Education secretary Motorcade of Libyan interior minister attacked MORE and former White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayGeorge Conway calls for thorough Lincoln Project probe: 'The lying has to stop' Claudia Conway advances on 'American Idol,' parents Kellyanne, George appear The swift death of the media darlings known as the Lincoln Project MORE.

Updated at 4:17 p.m.