Trump Trade Adviser Peter Navarro's Hatch Act Violations Include 4 Fox News Interviews

A report from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) released Monday outlines how Peter Navarro, director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy under President Donald Trump, violated the Hatch Act on multiple occasions—including during at least four interviews with Fox News.

The Office of Special Counsel has previously found that more than a dozen Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act. Under the act, federal government employees—with the exception of the president and vice president—are restricted from participating in partisan political activity, such as campaigning or fundraising for a political candidate. But Trump administration officials have shown little regard for these traditional boundaries.

"As detailed in the accompanying report, OSC concluded that Dr. Navarro violated the Hatch Act on several occasions when he engaged in political activity in his official capacity," special counsel Henry Kerner, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, wrote in a brief letter accompanying his office's report on Navarro.

The document goes on to highlight a series of violations, including one section that explains that Trump's trade adviser "repeatedly attacked 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden during official media interviews." It documents specific instances during interviews with Fox News on May 26, August 23, August 28 and September 6. Navarro also violated the Hatch Act, according to the report, during a September 30 interview with MSNBC and an October 19 interview with Fox Business.

Peter Navarro
Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro speaks to the press outside of the White House's West Wing on June 18. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel says Navarro has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act, as documented in a report released December 7. Alex Wong/Getty

"The Hatch Act prohibits Dr. Navarro from using his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election," the report explained. "This prohibition includes using his official title or position while engaging in political activity, i.e., activity directed at the success or failure of a candidate for partisan political office. What constitutes 'political activity' has been interpreted broadly by both judicial courts and the Merit Systems Protection Board."

Newsweek reached out to the White House and Navarro for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

During the interviews with Fox News, Navarro largely attacked Biden's economic policy proposals and argued that the Democrat was pro-China. On September 6, he said Biden's policies would mean "devastation in the Midwest." On August 23, he asked, "Does a nice guy [like Biden] let China into the World Trade Organization and have tens of thousands of factories across the Midwest go to China?"

It appears unlikely that any action will be taken to address Navarro's violations. Kellyanne Conway, who served as a senior counselor to Trump until earlier this year, was repeatedly cited for violating the Hatch Act, leading the special counsel to recommend her removal in June 2019. Conway remained in the White House undeterred until she stepped down for family reasons more than a year later in August.