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‘Unprecedented’: Trump melds office and campaign at RNC | USA News



Night two of the Republican National Convention saw US President Donald Trump fully embrace the blending of official White House work and government property with political campaigning in what some observers have called an “unprecedented” fashion.

Critics had already questioned Trump’s plans for himself and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, to deliver convention speeches from the White House, saying the backdrop raised ethical concerns. Melania went through with the speech as planned on Tuesday. Trump is slated to speak from the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday.

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On the second night of the four-day convention, exhibiting the reality show flair upon which Trump has built his reputation, the president further melded the Republican convention with two more orders of White House business – segments that showed Trump signing an official pardon and overseeing a naturalisation proceeding, both from the seat of the executive branch. 

Thomas Whalen, a Boston University political historian, said that no sitting president in recent history has combined the office with the campaign in the way Trump has during the convention. 

He called the administration’s actions “unprecedented” and possibly illegal. 

“The White House is called the ‘people’s house’, not the Republican house or the Democratic house,” Whalen told Al Jazeera. “It just flies in the face of decorum and tradition in this country.” 

Ethics and legal experts have charged the administration’s actions showed flagrant disregard for laws that arguably severely limit the use of public federal properties for partisan politics and that ban executive branch civilian employees, excluding the president and vice president, from participating in political campaigns in their official roles. 

The first instance on Tuesday, about 15 minutes into the programme, was a pre-taped segment showing Trump sign the pardon of Jon Ponder, a man convicted of robbing banks who now runs a non-profit that helps former prisoners re-enter society.

“I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream,” Trump said during the segment.   

US President Donald Trump, next to Jon Ponder and his wife, and former FBI agent Richard Beasley, after signing Jon Ponder’s pardon [Reuters] 

The second portion, coming about an hour and a half into the event, saw Trump overseeing a naturalisation ceremony conducted by acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. 

“You followed the rules, you obeyed the laws, you learned your history, embraced our values and proved yourselves to be men and women of the highest integrity,” Trump said, in an apparent attempt to rebut condemnation of his immigration policies that have made naturalisation more difficult for documented and undocumented immigrants.

‘Distorts the democratic process’

The Hatch Act, titled “an act to prevent pernicious political activities”, was passed in 1939 and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1973.

The law is meant to prevent a system where officials appointed by the president “are openly campaigning in support of their patron,” according to Whalen.

“That perpetuates a certain corruption that, if left unchecked, would basically corrode the whole foundation of a democrat Institutions of the Republic,” he said. 

While presidents and vice presidents are not banned from campaigning in their official capacity under the Hatch Act, the use of federal properties like the White House is almost assured to require the use of public resources and executive staff, Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law wrote in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

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“An underlying concern of the Hatch Act is that it is wrong for an incumbent to use the resources of the federal government, its employees or its financial resources, to help an election campaign,” he wrote. “It is not fair and it distorts the democratic process.” 

The appearance of Wolf in an event designed to be part of the convention also may represent a direct violation of the act, Kathleen Clark, a legal and government ethics professor at Washington University in St Louis School of Law, told the Washington Post, describing Trump and Wolf as “breathtaking in their contempt for the law”. 

The White House, for its part, has rebutted the criticism, with spokesman Judd Deere saying the president “is free to engage in political activity wherever he chooses”, and that “RNC Convention events will be planned and executed, at whatever the venue, by the Trump Campaign and RNC”, and that any federal employees involved will do so “in compliance with the Hatch Act”. 

Perhaps the most potentially legally and ethically murky portion of the night came from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who critics say broke diplomatic norms, State Department guidelines and possibly the law, by appearing in a pre-recorded video on an official trip to Jerusalem.

The White House, RNC and State Department lawyers have said they conducted a legal analysis of the speech before it aired and determined there was no wrongdoing. The details of that analysis have not been made public. 

House Democrats on Tuesday announced they had launched an investigation into the speech. 

“It is highly unusual, and likely unprecedented, for a sitting Secretary of State to speak at a partisan convention for either of the political parties,” wrote Representative Joaquin Castro in a letter to Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun.

“It appears that it may also be illegal,” he added.  

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema



When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.


Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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