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PoliticsKellyanne Conway defies subpoena, skips Oversight hearing

23:45  15 july  2019
23:45  15 july  2019 Source:   politico.com

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Kellyanne Conway defies subpoena, skips Oversight hearing© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway was intially blocked by the White House from appearing before the House Oversight Committee.

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday defied a congressional subpoena, refusing to show up for testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee about her violations of the Hatch Act.

In a letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the panel, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone asserted the Trump administration’s long-standing view that current and former White House officials are “absolutely immune” from congressional testimony, writing: “Ms. Conway cannot be compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters related to her service as a senior adviser to the president.”

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“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 on Monday, July 15, 2019,” Cipollone continued.

Cummings previously issued the subpoena after the White House blocked Conway from appearing before the committee voluntarily.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency that oversees Hatch Act compliance, cited Conway last month for multiple violations of the 1939 law, which prohibits government employees from participating in political speech while performing their official duties. The Democrat-led Oversight Committee has been looking into the issue.

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While Conway has publicly pushed back against the OSC’s claims that she violated the Hatch Act multiple times, she has not taken up the Oversight Committee’s invitations for her to give her side. Her failure to show up for a hearing last month led the committee to authorize Cummings to issue a subpoena to compel her testimony.

OSC chief Henry J. Kerner testified before the committee last month, calling her a repeat offender of the Hatch Act. His formal report on Conway’s violations recommended that President Donald Trump fire her; Trump has instead defended Conway.

Republican lawmakers, too, have rushed to Conway’s defense, claiming that the Hatch Act unfairly restricts Conway’s free speech rights.

In his report, Kerner said Conway violated the Hatch Act when she spoke multiple times about the 2020 presidential race, in addition to the Alabama Senate election in 2017.

“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,” Kerner wrote.

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