White House counselor Kellyanne Conway breathed defiance Monday as she discussed a report from the Office of Special Counsel that demanded she be fired for allegedly violating the Hatch Act.
That report will be the subject of a Wednesday hearing by House Democrats, who have threatened to subpoena Conway if she does not cooperate with them.
The Hatch Act prevents some government officials from using their official titles and positions in certain political circumstances.
Earlier this month, the OSC called Conway a “repeat offender” who disregarded the law in 2019 after previously being scolded by the office in 2017. The OSC’s report on Conway said she should be fired due to her alleged violations.
“The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) calls on President Donald J. Trump to remove Ms. Conway from her federal position immediately,” the report read, criticizing Conway for speaking about Democrat presidential candidates.
“We think I’d be the first member of the West Wing to ever be hauled in front of Congress to talk about the Hatch Act,” Conway said, noting that it is unclear if the act even covers her.
She denigrated the brouhaha as nothing more than politics.
“You know what they’re mad about? They want to put a big roll of masking tape over my mouth. Because I helped as the campaign manager for the successful part of the campaign,” she said.
“I helped by being on television, by being on radio,” she added.
“I helped and they want to silence me now. This is my First Amendment right. They want to chill free speech because they don’t know how to beat [Trump] at the ballot box. They were hoping that the other Office of Special Counsel would do the job,” Conway said, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation of allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia was not linked to the office that slammed Conway.
“Even if the Hatch Act applies, our position is I haven’t violated it.”
Conway said she offers reporters facts.
“If I’m talking about the failures of Obama-Biden-care, or if I’m talking about the fact that 28 million Americans have no health insurance, that’s a fact,” Conway said. “If I’m quoting what some of the candidates say about the other candidates, I’m just repeating the news to you as I read it that day.”
The report saw things differently.
“Beginning in February 2019, Ms. Conway, during official media appearances, engaged in a pattern of partisan attacks on several Democratic Party candidates shortly after they announced their candidacy for President, including Senator Cory Booker, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Congressman Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke, and former Vice President Joe Biden,” the report said.
“For example, in one interview, Ms. Conway insinuated that Senator Booker was ‘sexist’ and a ‘tinny’ ‘motivational speaker.’ In another, Ms. Conway said Senator Warren was ‘lying’ about her ethnicity and ‘appropriating somebody else’s heritage.’”
“In addition to disparaging individual Democratic candidates, Ms. Conway directed insults at the entire Democratic field. For example, she compared the Democratic Party candidates to ‘woodchips’ and reminded the American public ‘anything times zero equals zero’ when it came to the number of Democratic candidates and their ideas. Each of these actions constitutes a violation of the Hatch Act’s prohibition on the use of official authority to interfere with or affect an election,” the report stated.
“Ms. Conway’s advocacy against the Democratic candidates and open endorsement of the President’s reelection effort during both official media appearances and on her Twitter account constitute prohibited political activity under the Hatch Act. Accordingly, she repeatedly continues to violate the law,” it read.
House Democrats are siding with the OSC.
The House Oversight Committee has called a hearing for Wednesday on the report calling for Trump to fire Conway.
The panel has said it will subpoena Conway to testify if she does not appear voluntarily, Axios reported.
Committee Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland made it clear that judgment has been rendered even before the Democrat-dominated panel holds its hearing.
“President Trump should terminate Ms. Conway’s employment immediately in light of these dozens of violations of federal law. Allowing Ms. Conway to continue her position of trust at the White House would demonstrate that the President is not interested in following the law,” he said in a statement.
However, White House deputy press secretary Steven Groves said in a statement that the OSC is the one at fault.
“The Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) unprecedented actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process,” Groves told ABC News.
“Others, of all political views, have objected to the OSC’s unclear and unevenly applied rules which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees. Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations – and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act.”
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