President Trump’s campaign has set up two election night “war rooms” in the White House complex, raising questions anew about the intermingling of the governmental and the political in the Trump administration.
One war room is in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is adjacent to the White House, campaign and White House officials confirmed. White House officials also said there is a separate, smaller room in the White House building.
The use of government property for political purposes has been a recurring practice of the Trump administration over the past year. Mr. Trump held the final night of the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House at the end of August, after plans were repeatedly altered because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the final months of the race for president, Mr. Trump has also increasingly relied on political appointees and government agencies to bolster his re-election campaign.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement that the war room “needed to be in close proximity to the president and there is no expense whatsoever to American taxpayers for the use of a room in the EEOB, where events like prayer services and receptions for outside groups frequently occur.”
“Every piece of equipment, including Wi-Fi and computers, was paid for by the campaign, and no White House staff is involved,” he added. “The arrangement has been approved by White House counsel.”
Previous administrations have monitored elections from the White House, although some of have been mindful of avoiding having campaign staff involved.
For instance, according to a person involved in the operation, when former President George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004, his team had a setup in the White House residence with a screen allowing officials there to monitor campaign data. It was approved by the White House Counsel’s Office.
But in that case, campaign staff were not present, and officials involved had to demonstrate they’d worked a certain number of government hours in order to participate, the person involved said.
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