Former President Donald Trump encouraged staffers to feel free to break the law, his one-time press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday.
Grisham’s revelations came just days after a federal investigative report revealed that at least 13 former Trump officials violated the Hatch Act by intermingling their government duties with campaigning.
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They did so without consequence and with the administration’s approval as part of a “willful disregard for the Hatch Act,” which bars officials from using their platforms to influence elections, concluded the report by the Office of Special Counsel.
“In the White House, when we would get Hatch Act violations, that was a badge of honor,” Grisham told Acosta.
“It was a joke in the White House. The president used to say to us, ‘You know who’s in charge of the Hatch Act? It’s me, [so] go ahead, say whatever you want to say.’”
Because of his disregard for the law, Trump will continue to try to stonewall a demand for documents by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, Grisham believes. He will also continue to encourage former aides to flout subpoenas to testify, she said.
Steve Bannon, who ignored his subpoena, will now wear his indictment for criminal contempt of Congress like a “badge of honor,” and use it to fundraise, Grisham added.
As for the Hatch Act, brazen violators included former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, ex-senior White House aide Jared Kushner, former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, aide Kellyanne Conway and one-time senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, the report noted.
“Failure to impose discipline created the conditions for what appeared to be a taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus within the upper echelons of the executive branch,” the report stated.
The behavior exposed the Trump administration’s “willingness to manipulate government business for partisan political ends,” it added.