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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Conduct of several top RNC speakers has drawn scrutiny and allegations

Donald Trump Jr. in his prerecorded address to

Donald Trump Jr. in his prerecorded address to the Republican National Convention on Monday at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Credit: Pool / EPA / Chip Somodevilla

Several of President Donald Trump's closest advisers who are addressing the Republican National Convention this week have faced questions, investigations and allegations for their conduct on Trump's behalf.

Donald Trump Jr., who spoke Monday night, was among a few Trump advisers suspected by bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee of possibly having presented misleading testimony on the topic of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Last week, the committee revealed that Junior's name was referred to the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., to review the facts for any criminal activity. The referral was made in June of last year. No charges have resulted.

This week, the New York State attorney general's office asked a judge to order the president's son Eric to answer questions under oath. Attorney General Leticia James is probing allegations that the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated assets to get loans. The younger Trump spoke at the convention Tuesday.

Kellyanne Conway, the departing White House senior adviser, addresses the RNC's electronic audience Wednesday. Last year, an official monitor appointed by Trump found that Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity.

The monitor, special counsel Henry Kerner, stated: “Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions.”

Trump refused to act on that finding.

Presidential daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, whose RNC speech is Thursday, received multiple new product trademarks for her business ventures from Chinese government officials.

Last year, the president paid $2 million to several charities as part of a legal settlement with New York State. He and family members were found to have improperly used funds donated to the Donald J. Trump Foundation for his 2016 campaign and for business purposes.

Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr., all listed as officers of the foundation, were ordered to undergo training to prevent future misconduct.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, also speaks Thursday. He was deeply involved in the administration's Ukraine scheme. Investigations showed he usurped State Department turf and engaged disgruntled ex-officials from a previous Ukraine regime to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and other Democrats.

Not only did that failed mission help Trump get impeached, but Giuliani has drawn scrutiny of his own actions from the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan.

Prosecutors have yet to answer whether Giuliani broke registration laws meant to reveal foreign lobbying influence. Meanwhile, his indicted former business associates, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, face trial in February on charges that include violating campaign finance laws.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's RNC appearance on Tuesday generated an ethics controversy of its own.

Back in 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell skipped the Republican convention with the assent of President George W. Bush, saying he had to forgo "parochial, political debates." (Powell, a Republican, backs Biden this year.)

Not only is Pompeo ignoring that precedent, his speech, recorded overseas while on an official trip, seems to have violated a department directive as well. On Feb. 18, Pompeo's deputy, Stephen Biegun, instructed State Department employees in an email: “Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”

This isn't Pompeo's first brush with the rules. Allegations that he used public resources for personal purposes also have been under review by an inspector general.

No doubt, if the same facts applied to a Democratic administration, the RNC would have spent time this week blasting the incumbents as corrupt and pledging to restore ethical practice. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, economic woes and a polarized election, such concerns are widely treated as secondary.

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