House Democrats voted to subpoena Kellyanne Conway after she was a no-show at a hearing discussing her alleged violations of the Hatch Act.
The White House counselor was accused by the Office of Special Counsel earlier this month of “numerous violations” of the law regarding federal employees’ activities but did not voluntarily appear before a House Oversight and Reform Committee meeting on Wednesday, according to The Hill.
In a 25-16 vote with one Republican, Michigan’s Rep. Justin Amash, siding with Democrats, the committee voted Wednesday to subpoena Conway’s testimony after the White House kept her from appearing based on a “long-standing precedent” of blocking presidential advisers from giving congressional testimony.
Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings called the argument “baseless,” arguing that the lawmakers were not after the information from President Trump’s private conversations.
“There are rarely issues that come before our committee that are so clear-cut, but this is one of them,” the Maryland Democrat said at the opening of the meeting Wednesday. “This is about right and wrong. This is about the core principle of our precious democracy, that nobody, not one person, nobody in this country is above the law.”
“This is not a conspiracy to silence her or restrict her First Amendment rights,” Cummings said. “This is an effort to enforce federal law.”
Conway’s actions “created an unprecedented challenge to OSC’s ability to enforce the Hatch Act,” special counsel Henry Kerner testified Wednesday.
Kerner authored the report that the Office of Special Counsel sent to the Trump administration alleging that Conway had violated the Hatch Act on several occasions, including critical comments she made about Democratic presidential candidates from February through May.
“Her conduct sent a false message to other federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act, or that senior officials are above the law,” Kerner said. “I’m here to emphatically say that’s not the case.”
The president made it clear he had no intentions to fire Conway over the allegations in the report which he said seemed like a violation of her right to free speech.
Trump doesn’t plan to fire Kellyanne Conway pic.twitter.com/Ja8JKrvxyN
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) June 14, 2019
“No, I’m not going to fire her. I think she’s a terrific person,” Trump told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone contended that Conway did not have to testify before Congress, based on past precedent.
“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,” Cipollone wrote.
“Let me know when the jail sentence starts,” Conway told reporters last month, mocking the findings of the report.
Cummings clashed in a heated debate with GOP Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina on Wednesday ahead of the subpoena vote. Jordan, the ranking member, slammed the report as “unprecedented” and “unfair,” and Meadows argued the very existence of any violations of the law.
Democrats “want to focus on Kellyanne Conway’s tweets” instead of “issues that matter to Americans” Jordan said. “That’s the obsession you have with going after this president.”
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