President Donald Trump said Thursday he may give his Republican National Convention acceptance speech from the White House after all, despite ongoing criticism about his plans to use the executive residence for a partisan purpose.
The president told the New York Post he would likely give his speech from the White House lawn when he officially accepts the Republican nomination on Aug. 27.
“I’ll probably be giving my speech at the White House because it is a great place,” he told the newspaper. “It’s a place that makes me feel good, it makes the country feel good. We’d do it possibly outside on one of the lawns, we have various lawns, so we could have it outside in terms of the China virus.”
Trump went on to say an event on the lawn would be easier for the Secret Service to protect and also allow for “quite a group of people” as it was a “very big lawn.”
The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Trump initially floated the idea earlier this month after he was forced to cancel most of the RNC’s in-person events due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The statement — and another plan he floated to give the speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania — drew swift criticism from top Democrats and some Republicans, who noted the Hatch Act prohibits public officials from using their authority for a political purpose.
“I’ll probably do mine live from the White House,” the president told Fox News at the time. “If I use the White House, we save tremendous amounts of money for the government in terms of security, traveling.”
The Hatch Act does not apply to the president or vice president, and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel on Wednesday confirmed Trump was not bound by the law and could give the acceptance speech at the White House should he choose to do so. White House employees, however, are bound by the terms of the act and could be implicated depending on their involvement.
Top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), have blasted the plans.
“It’s very wrong,” she said from the Capitol earlier this month. “For the president of the United States to degrade, once again, the White House, as he has done over and over again, by saying he’s going to completely politicize it is something that should be rejected right out of hand.”
In his interview with the Post this week, Trump added that he hadn’t abandoned plans to host some kind of an event at Gettysburg, calling the Civil War battlefield location “special.”
“I will be doing something at Gettysburg, it may be something different, not for the convention,” he said. “We’re going to do something, I love Pennsylvania and I love Gettysburg, so we’re going to do something in Gettysburg at a little bit later date.”