WH Makes Kellyanne/Hatch Act Violation Announcement

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The White House is continuing its campaign to block Constitutionally-mandated oversight from Congress of its activities. After having previously blocked numerous other current and former officials from testifying, they’re now moving to block longtime Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway from testifying to the House Oversight Committee. The panel is seeking her testimony covering a case in which the Office of Special Counsel has asserted she’s been in consistent violation of the Hatch Act’s prohibition against government employees engaging in political advocacy and should therefore be fired.

Conway’s incessant politicking while on the job stretches from before the 2018 midterm elections to now when she advocates against Democratic presidential candidates while operating in her official role in contexts like interviews. As in other similar situations, White House lawyers are preparing an argument that Conway is immune from demands for Congressional testimony covering her time in the White House thanks to her status as a presidential aide.

They rolled out a claim of supposed absolute immunity just recently during former Trump aide Hope Hicks’ testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. During her time before that panel in which she was supposed to be answering questions about situations featuring the president apparently obstructing justice, the legal team with her including three White House lawyers blocked her from answering questions more than 150 times.

She was the first current or former senior Trump team member to testify to the panel under Democratic leadership — and it did not go well for the concerned Democrats, or the Trump administration if they’re as intent as they seem on painting Democrats as the supposed obstructionists. In this Conway case, House Democrats are apparently prepared to argue in the description of The Washington Post that the “White House has no right to claim executive privilege or immunity for Conway because the alleged violations in questions deal with her personal actions — not her duties advising the president.”

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee is prepared to vote to issue a subpoena targeting testimony from Conway as Democratic-majority House committees have done on now numerous other occasions in the cases of stonewalling Trump administration members. There is, unsurprisingly considering precedent, absolutely no indication that Conway intends to try and testify to the Oversight Committee despite the White House’s intervention — during a Monday appearance on Fox, she went so far that she claimed her opponents in the Hatch Act case “want to put a big roll of masking tape over my mouth because I helped as a campaign manager for the successful part of the campaign.”

In other cases, House Democrats faced with Trump associates’ refusals to testify have resorted to holding them in contempt of Congress. The full House has already voted to hold both Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in “civil contempt” for their refusals to comply with subpoenas. That vote lets House leaders go to court in an attempt to get the information they’re after, which in these cases includes material covering Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice and his and his team’s ties to Russia.

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