Democrat-Led House Panel Votes to Subpoena Trump Adviser Conway

June 26, 2019 Updated: June 26, 2019

Weeks after the White House counsel wrote a letter defending the president’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, the House Oversight Committee voted on June 26 to subpoena testimony from her.

The 25–16 vote from the Democrat-led panel comes after Conway failed to show up at a hearing about her alleged violations of the Hatch Act, a law that limits federal employees’ political activities.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a U.S. government watchdog agency, earlier this month recommended that Conway be fired for allegedly violating the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates, while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media. The OSC can make such recommendations but doesn’t have the authority to enforce them.

President Donald Trump said that he won’t fire Conway, telling “Fox & Friends” on June 14 that “it really sounds like a free speech thing.”

He also said that the whole incident seems “very unfair.”

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also slammed the report, writing on Twitter on June 14: “Applying the Hatch Act to someone appointed as a communicator for the President is an absurd contradiction. The law must be interpreted to avoid an irrational or unconstitutional result.”

In a June 11 letter responding to the OSC, White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote that the “report is based on multiple fundamental legal and factual errors, makes unfair and unsupported claims against a close adviser to the president, is a product of a blatantly unfair process that ignored statutory notice requirements, and has been influenced by various inappropriate considerations.”

Cipollone previously called on the OSC to retract the report and demanded any documents related to the document’s preparation.

Henry Kerner, who runs the Office of Special Counsel, said at the committee hearing that Conway left him “no choice” but to recommend her termination because she has committed “at least 10 separate Hatch Act violations, expressed no remorse and continues to express disdain” for the law. Kerner’s office isn’t connected to the office of former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the committee’s top Republican, said Democrats are seeking to limit Conway’s free speech rights because they disagree with her views.

A day before the hearing, Jordan wrote on Twitter that the subpoena is “just the latest attempt to silence the Trump administration,” and added that Conway is “tough as nails.”

In his testimony, Kerner said Conway could formally change her role to become an adviser to Trump’s reelection campaign, rather than a White House employee.

He said the change would address his concerns.

An earlier OSC report from March 2018 cited Conway for favoring a Republican candidate over a Democrat in an interview discussing a special Senate election in Alabama in 2017. The White House said she was only expressing Trump’s preference.

The White House’s letter also accused Kerner’s team of bias against Conway, saying they recommended her termination because they felt disrespected by public comments she made about the OSC.

Cipollone said that the office provided the White House with a copy of the report on Conway at 5 p.m. on May 29 and demanded a response by 9 a.m. the following morning.

Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov and Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Bowen on Twitter: @BowenXiao3