There are very few things the Trump administration excels at quite like blurting the quiet parts out loud. Theirs is a White House that operates exclusively on a super-liminal wavelength, shoving potentially damaging subtext into the forefront, and then retroactively justifying their overt admission of wrongdoing.
Which brings me to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the latest in a comedically long line of Trump enablers, who essentially waved away the administration's flagrant disregard for laws — in this case, specifically, the Hatch Act — by telling Politico's Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman on Wednesday that "nobody outside of the Beltway really cares."
The relevant section of their interview is at the 4:20 mark, below:
Meadows' admission — made in the wake of the Republican National Convention's second night, which featured any number of Hatch Act transgressions — comes amid multiple reports that Trump administration figures and allies "take pride" in breaking the laws designed to prevent political office holders and appointees from using their government positions for partisan purposes. And while Meadows attempted to frame the Hatch Act as solely in place to prevent workplace coercion between federal employees, there is a strong legal case that the administration's actions during the RNC in particular, and across the past four years in office more broadly, violate its more expansive purpose to bar governmental politicking in general.
Still, earlier Wednesday morning Sherman and Palmer themselves asked Meadows whether he "[thinks] a single person outside the Beltway gives a hoot about the president politicking from the White House or using the federal government to his political advantage? Do you think any persuadable voter even notices?"
The fact that both the White House chief of staff, as well as two of the premier political journalists in the country are both publicly musing about whether or not it matters that laws are broken is plenty alarming in and of itself. But the bizarre spin that, absent an audience, a legal tree falling in the woods makes no sound, was rendered even more hypocritically neutered by Meadows's own conspicuous effort at the start of the conversation to make clear that his assessment of upcoming presidential election was being made solely in a personal capacity, and not as the White House chief of staff. It's hardly the sort of declaration someone would need to make if they sincerely thought that A) the Hatch Act didn't apply in their case, and B) no one cares anyway.
Will there be any concrete repercussions for the administration's continued flirtation with Hatch Act violations? Doubtful. Does that mean we should ignore them anyway? Absolutely not.