White House dares Cummings to bring it, Kellyanne Conway won’t be testifying

(FILE PHOTO by Gettys)

After years of ignoring Hatch Act violations by Obama administration officials, including then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, congressional Democrats are now hellbent on making White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pay for her alleged violations.

There’s just one problem: The Trump administration doesn’t intend to comply.

On Monday the White House submitted a letter to House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings informing him that it doesn’t intend to “make Ms. Conway available for testimony before the committee” during a hearing scheduled for this Wednesday.

As justification for its decision, the White House cited precedence.

“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 ofboth political parties, and is based on clearly established constitutional doctrines,” the letter reads.

Announced late last week, the hearing will reportedly allow for the “examin[ation] [of] the recommendation of the independent Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that President Trump remove Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway from federal service.”

The hearing was announced roughly a week after the Office of Special Counsel issued a stunning, first-of-its-kind report calling for Conway to be terminated over alleged Hatch Act violations. Never before in the office’s 40-year history has it ever called for a White House official to be terminated.

“The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today sent report to President Donald J. Trump finding that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media,” a statement from the OSC reads.

Democrats responded to the recommendation by scheduling a hearing and threatening to subpoena the White House counselor. But with the White House now threatening to keep Conway away from the hearing, they’re reportedly now threatening to hold her in contempt.

As justification for these actions, Democrats have claimed “that the White House has no right to claim executive privilege or immunity for Conway because the alleged violations deal with her personal actions — not her duties advising the president or working in the West Wing,” according to The Washington Post.

This justification however seems to belie the nature of the complaints against the White House counselor.

When the OSC first targeted Conway in early 2018, it argued that statements she’d made on FNC’s “Fox & Friends” and CNN’s “New Day” in 2017 about the then-upcoming special election in Alabama were violations of the Hatch Act.

While she did speak positively about Republican candidate Roy Moore and disparagingly about his Democrat challenger, Doug Jones, the White House insisted at the time that she’d merely been echoing the president’s positions. Note for instance what she said on “Fox & Friends.”

“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks don’t be fooled,” she said. “He’ll be a vote against tax cuts. He’s weak on crime, weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He’s terrible for property owners. And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal, which is why he’s not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.”

Listen:

When then-President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced in late December of 2016 that Conway had been tapped to serve as his counselor, it noted that in her position she’d “continue her role as a close adviser to the President and will work with senior leadership to effectively message and execute the Administration’s legislative priorities and actions.”

The inclusion of the term “message” suggests that one of her roles as counselor is to convey the president’s opinion on policies, elections, etc. And that, it would appear, was exactly what she’d been doing vis-a-vis the special election in Alabama. This strongly suggests her alleged violations do NOT pertain “with her personal actions,” as the Democrats have asserted.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE MISSING …

Speaking Monday morning on FSC’s “Fox & Friends,” Conway pushed back on the OSC’s interpretation of the Hatch Act and slammed both the agency and congressional Democrats for allegedly trying to silence her.

“It is not even clear to us here at the White House — according to the White House counsel — that the Hatch Act applies to assistants to the president,” she said. “It’s not even clear what the Hatch Act allows.”

“You know what they’re mad about?” she added. “They want to put a big roll of masking tape over my mouth. … 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.”

Listen:

The president has for his part echoed her free speech concerns and made it clear that he doesn’t intend to abide by the OSC’s recommendation.

“I’m not going to fire her,” he said on “Fox & Friends” after the OSC issued its recommendation earlier this month. “I think she’s a tremendous person, she’s loyal, she’s a great person. Based on what I saw yesterday, how could you do that? They have tried to take away her speech and I think you’re entitled to free speech in this country.”

Is their any validity to the free speech argument?

In a series of tweets posted Monday, Conway quoted from a letter sent to the OSC by the White House Counsel to argue that yes, the free speech argument is 100 percent valid.

Look:

HERE’S WHAT YOU’RE MISSING …

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