The White House will allow as many as a dozen senior advisers to receive additional cell phones so that they can contact the #Republican National Committee (RNC) regarding the fall midterm elections, officials said Thursday.
A White House official, who was granted anonymity to describe the plan, said the arrangement was made in order to allow certain senior advisers to “conduct political activity during core working hours,” when personal devices are not permitted inside working areas of the White House.
Advisers could begin to receive the devices in a matter of days, according to the official. The White House isn’t saying which staff members will have an RNC phone.
The unusual decision to hand out separate devices suggests the White House is closely and frequently coordinating with the RNC for the upcoming midterm elections, when Republicans are facing stiff political headwinds.
The move is designed to allow top aides to coordinate political activities with the RNC without breaking federal ethics and record-keeping laws or the White House’s recent ban on personal devices in the West Wing.
Democrats are feeling emboldened about their chances of retaking control of Congress, something that Trump and his GOP allies fear will stall his agenda and accelerate investigations into the president.
The official told The Hill that the phones will be “heavily regulated” in order to “ensure we are not using official devices for political purposes and to ensure that we are doing this above board.”
The phones are owned by the RNC and come equipped with committee email addresses, but the official said aides will be barred from discussing official business on the devices in order to comply with the Presidential Records Act.
The arrangement is likely to come under scrutiny from ethics watchdogs, who have repeatedly criticized the White House for blurring the sometimes fine line between political and official activities.
Trump on Monday spoke at length about the November midterms during a speech in Ohio that the White House billed as an official, and not a political, event.