‘This is an effort to enforce federal law, which very clearly prohibits employees from engaging in political activities…’
(Billy House, Bloomberg News) A House committee voted Wednesday to authorize a subpoena for testimony from Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to President Donald Trump, after the White House said this week she was immune from having to testify before the panel.
The 25 to 16 vote gives a green light to Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings to compel Conway to testify about a government watchdog’s accusations she violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from conducting politics while acting in their capacity as a federal employee.
In a report released last week, the independent U.S. Office of Special Counsel recommended that Conway be “removed from federal service” for disparaging Democratic presidential candidates in her official capacity as a senior White House adviser.
Cummings, during a combative hearing before the vote, said Conway was found to have violated the Hatch Act dozens of times. He said the subpoena to testify is about “right and wrong” and the “core principle of our democracy, that nobody in this country is above the law.”
“Contrary to the claims from Ms. Conway and President Trump, this is not a conspiracy to silence her or restrict her First Amendment rights,” said Cummings, of Maryland. “This is an effort to enforce federal law, which very clearly prohibits employees from engaging in political activities on federal property while using their official position.”
“The allegations are ridiculous,” responded the panel’s top Republican, Jim Jordan of Ohio, who along with other Republicans said this is another congressional dig at Trump himself.
Jordan said it is true that federal employees can’t come to work and hand out election flyers or raise funds for campaigns, “but a senior adviser to the president of the United States can sure as heck go on cable news shows and answer questions.”
Jordan ticked off several aides to former Democratic President Barack Obama who he said did the same thing: David Plouffe, David Axelrod and John Podesta.
“They all did it for President Obama,” Jordan said. “But now, now that it’s a strong-willed Republican helping President Trump — Oh! can’t have that!”
Earlier this week, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Cummings to say: “In accordance with long-standing precedent, we respectfully decline the invitation to make Ms. Conway available for testimony before the committee.”
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