Tuesday, November 12, 2019

White House Blocking Kellyanne Conway from Appearing Before House Panel on Hatch Act

The White House is blocking Kellyanne Conway from appearing before the House Oversight Committee’s Wednesday hearing on her alleged Hatch Act violations, citing “precedent,” it announced Monday evening.

The panel hearing, set to take place Wednesday at 10 a.m., plans to “examine the recommendation of the independent Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that President Trump remove Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway from federal service.” However, Conway will not attend, despite the looming threat of a subpoena.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote a letter to House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) Monday, arguing that Conway was well within established precedent.

Cipollone wrote:

As you know, the precedent for members of the White House staff to decline invitations to testify before congressional committees has been consistently adhered to by administrations of both political parties, and is based on clearly established constitutional doctrines.

NEW – Letter from WH counsel to @RepCummings notifying committee @KellyannePolls declines to testify about alleged Hatch Act violations pic.twitter.com/YJ6eypFx6M

— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) June 24, 2019

The threat of a subpoena lingered in the committee’s memo Friday. It read, “The Committee also will hold a business meeting to consider a subpoena in the event that Ms. Conway does not appear.”

Cummings signaled he plans to move forward with the threat. He said he will “of course” hold her in contempt if she fails to show up to the panel hearing Wednesday morning.

“We cannot have people disobeying the law,” Cummings said. “The President is not above the law. And neither is Ms. Conway above the law.”

The Office of the Special Counsel recently found Conway to be a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act. While there seems to be many gray areas, the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees – specifically those working in the executive branch – of using their position to wade into political campaign activities.

Conway’s first alleged violation occurred in November 2017, after describing Roy Moore’s challenger, Doug Jones, as “weak on crime” and “terrible for property owners” on Fox & Friends. She has also been accused of violating the Hatch Act by remarking on the 2020 race, although she has vigorously defended her position.

“I’m going to talk about people’s records because I have the right to,” Conway said.

Conway spoke about the potential Hatch Act violations with Fox & Friends Monday and said the left is trying to “silence her” because they do not know how to beat Trump in 2020.

“They want to silence me now…because they don’t know how to beat him at the ballot box,” Conway said. “They were hoping that the other Office of Special Counsel would do the job.”

“[E]ven if the Hatch Act applies, our position is I haven’t violated it,” she added.

Conway referenced the White House Counsel’s response to the OSC’s original report on Twitter Monday, calling it “a useful primer.”

“White House Counsel’s strong and intelligent response to OSC’s ‘report’ on the Hatch Act provides important facts, details & legal arguments that many must have missed, choose to ignore, or have difficulty digesting,” she tweeted. “A useful primer.”

THREAD: White House Counsel’s strong and intelligent response to OSC’s “report” on the Hatch Act provides important facts, details & legal arguments that many must have missed, choose to ignore, or have difficulty digesting. A useful primer.

— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) June 24, 2019

“OSC’s overbroad and unsupported interpretation of the Hatch Act risks violating Ms. Conway’s First Amendment rights and chills the free speech of all government employees.” pic.twitter.com/TqyqpmgXlp

— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) June 24, 2019

“After admitting that OSC relied solely on the media report to assess Ms. Conway’s comment, you specifically said that the Office had to act quickly because it had been receiving press inquiries and had to be mindful of interest from politicians outside of the Office.” pic.twitter.com/iaKBTeuOXF

— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) June 24, 2019

“Therefore, political activity does not include merely criticizing policy proposals offered by aspiring candidates who hope to implement them in a future administration.” pic.twitter.com/mHZ5BCOYcD

— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) June 24, 2019

Hannah Bleau

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