A Seemingly Absurd Response
Andrew Bates, deputy press secretary of the White House, has been the object of ridicule among conservatives for his indirect response to a question about the cocaine discovered in the White House. His choice to invoke the Hatch Act in his response raised eyebrows.
“Are you willing to say that that’s not the case? That it [the cocaine] doesn’t belong to them?”
This was the question a reporter directed at Bates. Instead of a straightforward denial or confirmation, Bates decided to invoke the Hatch Act.
“I don’t have a response to that because we have to be careful about the Hatch Act,” he stated.
Understanding the Hatch Act
The Hatch Act aims to prevent executive branch employees from participating in political activities while on duty, using federal property, or within a federal facility. This information is available on the DOJ’s website.
The Ridicule Begins
Several conservatives saw Bates’ response as an absurdity. Mike Davis, the founder and president of the pro-Trump Article III Project and former Chief Counsel for Nominations to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, commented on this issue in an interview with Breitbart News.
“Cocaine may be a part of political activities for Hunter Biden, but Congress probably wasn’t high on that idea when it passed the Hatch Act.”
Jerry Dunleavy, a reporter, also derided the White House’s response on Twitter.
“That famous Hatch Act provision which doesn’t allow you to say White House cocaine doesn’t belong to the president or his son,” he posted.
Steve Guest, a former Senate staffer, pointed out Bates’ evasion of the question.
“Odd that Bates pivots to the Hatch Act and doesn’t deny the question…”
Byron York, a conservative columnist, also expressed his disbelief on Twitter.
“The Hatch Act?”
Sean Davis, the CEO and co-founder of the Federalist, shared similar sentiments.
“Hatch Act? What? That makes zero sense,” he tweeted
The Cocaine Incident
On Sunday evening, uniformed Secret Service officers discovered cocaine at the White House. The resulting emergency led to an evacuation and the arrival of a D.C. Fire Department hazmat team. The incident is currently under investigation by the Secret Service.
Following the incident, James Comer, the House Oversight Committee Chair, requested a briefing from the Secret Service regarding their investigation.
“We don’t know where Hunter Biden lives unless he is living in the White House,” he stated. He went on to express concern over Hunter Biden’s past drug use, citing pictures of him smoking crack as part of his argument.
The White House’s Stance
Despite the ongoing investigation, the White House has remained mum on the matter. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre avoided making any comments on whether the White House supports prosecuting whoever smuggled the cocaine.
“I’m just not gonna get into hypotheticals from here. Let the Secret Service do their job. It’s under their purview. We are confident that they will get to the bottom of it. I’m just not going to get ahead of this at this time,” she told reporters.
When asked about potential drug testing for White House staffers, Jean-Pierre again avoided giving a definitive answer.
“Just not going to get into hypotheticals from here,” she replied. “The White House is subject to rigorous guidelines that include drug testing. So, we will take any action that is appropriate and warranted.”