Trump Adviser Peter Navarro Accused of Using Post to Sway 2020 Race
Peter Navarro speaks to members of the media outside the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg)

Trump Adviser Peter Navarro Accused of Using Post to Sway 2020 Race

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President Donald Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, willfully broke the law by engaging in political activity in his official capacity, the latest member of the administration accused of such violations, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

Navarro used media appearances and social media in an attempt to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential contest, in violation of the Hatch Act, according to a report released Monday by the government agency. He continued to flout the law even after being told he was being investigated for doing so, the report said.

Navarro “repeatedly attacked presidential candidate Joe Biden and/or vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris” during media appearances, according to the report. On a Twitter account he often uses for official purposes, Navarro called the now president-elect “soft” on China and a plagiarist.

Trump Adviser Peter Navarro Accused of Using Post to Sway 2020 Race

The White House and Navarro didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Hatch Act generally is intended to prevent the use of government power for partisan political purposes. Violations can be punished with both civil penalties -- like fines or suspension from work -- and criminal penalties.

If White House employees violate the Hatch Act, Trump would be the one who would have to penalize them. Trump hasn’t acted on previous allegations of Hatch Act violations, including after the OSC recommended he fire Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway for repeatedly breaking it.

The Office of Special Counsel said it was referring the violations to the president for “appropriate disciplinary action.”

Navarro chose not to respond to the Office of Special Counsel report, it said. Navarro committed violations even after receiving training and being put on notice about the Special Counsel’s probe, according to the report.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said it had filed several complaints against Navarro over the Hatch Act due to his politically charged comments.

“In an administration full of people illegally using their government positions to influence an election, Navarro has been one of the worst,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the group.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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