Earlier this week, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway White House Counselor Kellyanne defied a congressional subpoena and failed to appear at a congressional hearing to give testimony about her violations of the Hatch Act. Now House Democrats are threatening to hold her in contempt of Congress, which carries a penalty of no less than one month and no more than one year in prison, plus a fine of up to $100,000.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone penned a letter that directed Conway not to appear at the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee hearing, arguing that current and former White House officials were “absolutely immune” from being required to testify before Congress, according to a letter released by the committee.
Congress released a letter addressed to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the panel in which Cipollone reaffirming the Trump administration’s long-held stance that presidential advisers, current and past, are “absolutely immune” from being required to testify before congress. The letter read, in part, “Ms. Conway cannot be compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters related to her service as a senior adviser to the president.”
He continued, “Because of this constitutional immunity, and in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the President, the president has directed Ms. Conway not to appear at the committee’s scheduled hearing.”
Conway has been given until July 25 to appear and honor the subpoena and if she has not by that date, Cummings plans to hold her in contempt of Congress. Before adjourning the hearing on Monday, Cummings said,
“This is a clear cut case. We are not requiring her to testify about advice she gave the president or about the White House’s policy decisions… We are requiring her to testify before Congress about her multiple violations of federal law, her waste of taxpayer funds, and her actions that compromise public confidence in the integrity of the federal government.”Elijah Cummings, on Kellyanne Conway
House Dems have been accused, most recently by White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, of targeting the White House with harassment on many fronts and against many members of the administration; Conway is simply the latest.
Grisham said, “… Chairman Cummings and Democrats on the House Oversight Committee continued their purely political campaign to harass the president and his close advisers. Democrats continue to overreach and politicize the Office of Special Counsel — this time, by trying to silence Kellyanne Conway with ill-founded, phony allegations about the Hatch Act.”
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Conway had violated the 1939 enacted Hatch Act, which prohibits government workers from participating in political speech while performing official job duties and the House Oversight Committee has been looking into it. Cummings commented further, “This illegal activity — and the ongoing effort to cover it up — must not be allowed to stand.”
The subpoena and the fallout from it are just the latest in a back and forth with the White House. Conway has spoken out against the claims that she was in violation of the Hatch Act but she has not yet given her side and Cummings had the subpoena issued after the White House made the bold move to block Conway from appearing before the committee on her own.
Even Trump appointee Henry J. Kerner, who is now the OSC chief, called Conway a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act, in his testimony to the committee last month, even recommending that Trump FIRE Ms. Conway. But what did Trump do? He continued to defend her.
Perhaps also not surprisingly, Republican lawmakers are defending Conway. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordean said, “This hearing is solely for the purpose of creating political theater.”
Kerner gave specific examples of Conway’s violations in his report, citing the multiple times she has spoken about the 2020 election and other various local and state elections. Kerner said,
“Ms. Conway’s advocacy against the Democratic candidates and open endorsement of the president’s re-election effort during both official media appearances and on her Twitter account constitute prohibited personnel activity under the Hatch Act.”Henry Kerner