The ongoing fight between the Trump administration and House Democrats reached a new point this Wednesday with a vote from the House Oversight Committee authorizing a subpoena for testimony from longtime Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. She had refused to comply with a previous demand for testimony covering her violations of the Hatch Act’s prohibition against federal employees engaging in political activity while on the job, which the Office of Special Counsel said should lead to her firing. President Donald Trump, unsurprisingly, has not seemingly indicated that he has any plans to even talk to Conway about the issue — but House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has said his panel is ready to hold Conway in contempt of Congress if she ignores their subpoena.
‘This is not a conspiracy to silence her or restrict her First Amendment rights. This is an effort to enforce federal law. Nobody in this country is above the law.’
Notably, Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash is on the Oversight Committee and he (again) broke with the party line to vote in favor of authorizing the subpoena against Conway. He has recently made headlines for becoming the first and still only Republican member of Congress to publicly support impeaching Trump in the wake of the revelations about his obstruction of justice outlined in the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Unsurprisingly, other Republicans fiercely contested the notion that Conway should be held accountable for breaking the law. The Oversight Committee’s top Republican Rep. Jim Jordan whined that Democrats supposedly “want to focus on Kellyanne Conway’s tweets” instead of “issues that matter to Americans.”
Conway’s Hatch Act violations stretch back to before the 2018 midterm elections and have continued more recently, when she has been routinely disparaging Democratic presidential primary contenders while clearly working in her official capacity in contexts like interviews. In a previous case in which she faced the Office of Special Counsel (which is unrelated to Mueller’s probe), she mocked their criticism of her breaking the law, quipping that people should let her “know when the jail sentence starts.”
More recently, she has responded to criticism of her more recent behavior by melodramatically claiming some wide-ranging conspiracy to silence her, memorably sharing during an appearance on Fox:
‘They want to put a big roll of masking tape over my mouth. They want to chill free speech because they don’t know how to beat [Trump] at the ballot box.’
No, Kellyanne, attempting to enforce long-established federal law is not some kind of grand conspiracy targeting you. It’s justice — or an attempt at it at least. Her response is, of course, similar to the consistent line that Trump has held in response to the Russia scandal and subsequent investigation, claiming the whole thing to be nothing but a witch hunt, even as half a dozen of his associates face criminal charges.
In line with that, Conway is not the first current or former Trump official that the White House has blocked or attempted to block from testifying. Others have included former White House counsel Don McGahn.
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