House Democrats 'alarmed' by allegations about US diplomat in Brazil

Source: The Hill | July 31, 2020 | Brooke Seipel

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee say they are “extremely alarmed” by reports out of Brazil that the U.S. ambassador in the country framed trade negotiations as being beneficial to reelecting President Trump, according to a report by The New York Times.

News media in Brazil have reported that U.S. ambassador Todd Chapman told officials in the country it would give a boost to Trump’s reelection chances if the two nations were able to reach a deal on lifting ethanol tariffs. Brazil currently has tariffs on the key export from Iowa, a swing-state that will be crucial in November as polls already show a tight race. 

The State Department has asserted in a statement to the Times that the allegation “Chapman has asked Brazilians to support a specific U.S. candidate are false,” and that the US will keep working to reduce the tariffs.

But Democrats are reportedly worried Chapman’s actions violate the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from making partisan remarks that could influence an election while using their official title.

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The New York Times highlights reports from The O Globo newspaper and its competitor Estadão, which cite multiple sources claiming Chapman has brought up Trump’s reelection in negotiations, suggesting it’s beneficial to Brazil for Trump to remain in office. 

According to the Times, the reports about Chapman do not say he explicitly asked for help for the Trump campaign, but tied ethanol trade to the election. 

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