KJP Plays Dumb on Hatch Act Violation: ‘We Didn’t Know’
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre appeared to have a working knowledge of the Hatch Act, opting to hide behind it often when dodging questions about the actions of the Biden campaign, but President Biden’s affirmative action spokesperson had a simple explanation for having violated the law: “We didn’t know.”
The Office of Special Counsel, a government watchdog agency, determined that Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act when she repeatedly referred to “mega MAGA Republicans” in the run-up to the 2022 midterms. In a letter shared with NBC News, the agency said KJP violated the law intended to prevent federal employees from using their offices to influence elections, stating that her use of the term was “an inappropriate attempt to influence the vote.”
“Unfortunately, we have seen mega MAGA Republican officials who don’t believe in the rule of law. They refuse to accept the results of free and fair elections and they fan the flames of political violence through what they praise and what they refuse to condemn. It remains important for the President to state strongly and unequivocally that violence has no place in our democracy,” Jean-Pierre said in Nov. 2022.
A reporter asked Jean-Pierre about what kind of guidance she had been given by the White House Counsel and she jumped on the opportunity to justify her actions.
“So let me just lay this down. I’m really glad that you asked the question,” she replied. “I know there’s been many news reports on this, so as we’ve made very clear throughout our time in this administration that we do everything that we can to uphold, certainly, the Hatch Act and take the law very seriously.”
“We received a letter from the Office of Special Counsel, which is the independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act, as all of you know, and it communicated to us that — their opinion and — issuing a warning, but not taking further action. As you all know by reading the letter and the reports, the White House Counsel’s Office is reviewing their opinion and is going to respond to them,” Jean-Pierre added.
As might be expected, she then pointed to the Trump administration detailing how often the term “MAGA” was used, before adding that because her remarks occurred months ago the actions “were retroactive.”
“So, look, when — basically, what we’re seeing by me laying that out is that we did not know their opinion when we were able to use — when we were given the green light to actually say the comments that I made. So I just want to make that very clear,” Jean-Pierre said.
When asked if she disagreed with the finding, she again stressed that she “didn’t know” her remarks were in violation of the law.
“No. What I’m saying is that this — we got this letter last week. And it was retroactive, right? The letter was retroactive. The comments that I made was months prior. And so, we didn’t know that was the opinion months prior, when it was said,” KJP said.