White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday turned down a request to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on possible violations of the Hatch Act, opening the doors for the committee to vote on issuing a subpoena to the close ally of President Donald Trump.
In a letter sent to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the White House said it was declining the request and cited a precedent of White House staff not testifying before congressional committees. The committee had asked Conway to testify about reports from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel of multiple violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in many forms of political activity.
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The OSC — which is separate from the office of former special counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 elections — sent Trump a report in March last year saying Conway violated the Hatch Act by commenting in favor of and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special Senate election. The office sent Trump another letter on June 13 calling out another 12 violations, including advocating for the president’s reelection and speaking out against Democratic candidates.
Special counsel Henry J. Kerner recommended that Trump fire Conway for violating the act, but Conway pushed back, telling reporters last month, “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work.”
Trump said he was not planning to fire Conway, and Conway has characterized the report as an attempt to stifle her First Amendment rights.
The House committee anticipated her refusal, writing in a memo to lawmakers that it would vote to subpoena Conway if she did not appear. A committee aide confirmed Monday night that the lawmakers would go through with the vote on Wednesday.