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White House staff could break the law if they aid Trump's 'Fake Media Awards'

Former White House lawyer Norman Eisen says they could be in violation of Standards of Ethical Conduct.
Fake News Awards
Former White House lawyer speaks up about Trump's Fake Media Awards. Photo: Getty Images

Those "Fake Media Awards" Trump promised today will be postponed to Wednesday, Jan. 17.

Many outlets on Trump’s "fake news" list include: ABC, CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post and NBC. He has made a note that FOX will stay off that list.

At a press conference Wednesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders had originally told reporters that they should expect an awards show, but she wouldn’t disclose who would make the guest list or whether or not it would air on television, reported the Washington Post

"I certainly don’t want to spoil anything, but my guess is that there are quite a few individuals that could be up for those awards," she said.

Norm Eisen, the former White House Special Counsel for Ethics during the Obama administration and chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, took to Twitter to warn staff that they would be in violation of the law if they helped Trump with the "Fake Media Awards," Newsweek reported.

According to Eisen, they could risk violating "Misuse of Position" provisions of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, which prohibits "use of government time and money to harm some media and aid others."

Metro has contacted Eisen for further elaboration. 

Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub tweeted at Sanders and White House Principal Deputy Press Secrety Raj Shah in support of Eisen: "Norm is right. If you or *ANY* WH staffers work on this or post it on the WH website, it will be a violation of the Standards of Conduct. Beware of laws on using federal appropriations too, if there are any visuals, certificates, handouts, or trophies."

In late December, Trump’s Make America Great Again Committee emailed out a "King of Fake News" Poll for the public to decide which specific "fake news" story garners a trophy. Candidates include erroneous reports from TIME, CNN and ABC, which Trump has used as ammo for his fight against the press.

The CNN article from Dec. 8 mistakeningly said that Trump and his campaign officials were emailed about WikiLeaks information before it was made public. CNN made a correction that afternoon.

A week prior, ABC mistakeningly reported that Trump directed the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to make contact with the Russians before he became president-elect. Investigative reporter Brian Ross read a correction on-air that night. 

Read more about these two erroneous reports here.

Lastly, Zeke Miller, TIME'S White House correspondent, incorrectly reported that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. According to TIME, Miller sent out apologies by email and Twitter, and a correction was made on the original article, noting that it's "still in the Oval Office."

It's unclear whether or not Trump's alleged awards will be granted to news outlets as a whole or the individual stories the president has taken issue with.

In a tweet, White House director of social media Dan Scavino Jr. said he had nothing to do with the poll, which he claimed was solely in the hands of a Trump campaign.

So, we really do have limited information about how this ceremony will play out.

We do know that before Trump announced the postponement, celebrity chef and Trump critic José Andrés offered the winners a free meal. 

And Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah have shown interest in being nominated. They both posted "for your consideration" ads days before the original date: Colbert on a Times Square billboard and Noah in a New York Times spread.

The mystery and anticipation continue.