As the Republican National Convention approaches, President Donald Trump has hinted that he might choose to deliver his acceptance speech remotely from the White House.
The suggestion was met with bipartisan criticism, including a firm denouncement from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as reported by the Washington Examiner.
“It won’t happen, let’s put it that way,” she said in response to a question from MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell during a television appearance on Wednesday.
The host followed up by asking Pelosi if she had the power to prevent the speech from happening, prompting the leader to simply assert that Trump “can’t do that.”
She went on to allege that the president was “diverting attention from the fact that people are dying in our country” from the coronavirus by focusing on the backdrop of his upcoming speech.
Pelosi’s comments came shortly after Trump appeared on the Fox News Channel, where he floated the idea of addressing the GOP from the White House.
“We are thinking about doing it from the White House because there’s no movement,” he said. “It’s easy, and I think it’s a beautiful setting, and we are thinking about that. It’s certainly one of the alternatives. It’s the easiest alternative. I think it’s a beautiful alternative.”
“It is legal”
Of course, a number of critics in both parties pointed to the Hatch Act, which prohibits elected officials from participating in certain political activities, as a possible legal hurdle. While the president is exempt from the restriction, some interpretations suggest other White House staffers could be in violation.
“I assume that’s not something that you could do,” said U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) of Trump’s suggestion. “I assume there’s some Hatch Act issues or something. I don’t know the answer to that and I haven’t heard him say that but I think anything to do with federal property would seem to me to be problematic.”
The president, however, clung to his exemption and dismissed concerns about the plan.
“It is legal,” Trump said. “There is no Hatch Act because it doesn’t pertain to the president.”
For his part, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is set to deliver his remarks from his home in Delaware. Since Trump lives in the White House, it seems only fair that he be given the same opportunity.