• By The Financial District


President Donald Trump made two surprise appearances on the second night of the Republican National Convention — and in both he broke ethical norms by using the powers of the presidency to promote his reelection campaign, Eliza Relman wrote for Business Insider on August 26, 2020.

In the first instance, Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, a bank robber turned activist, at the White House. In perhaps the most blatant ethics violation of the night, Trump had his acting secretary of homeland security conduct a naturalization ceremony for five new US citizens at the White House.

A federal law known as the Hatch Act bars federal employees — excluding the president — from engaging in any political activities, including campaigning, in their official capacities. Later on Tuesday night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech celebrating Trump's presidency from a rooftop in Jerusalem, where he is on a four-day taxpayer-funded diplomatic trip to the Middle East. State Department aides said Pompeo was acting in his personal capacity.

Ethics experts have broadly condemned the president and his campaign's apparent disregard for ethical norms and laws. "A reminder that using government locations, government functions, and executive branch officials as part of a giant political campaign event is anti-democratic and in many cases illegal," tweeted Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "They keep blowing through law and democratic principles and assume no one will care." Walter Shaub, who served as director of the US Office of Government Ethics under President Barack Obama, tweeted on Tuesday night that he'd "seen a lot of ethical abuses before" but that he'd "never seen anything like that."