Trump says will not fire White House adviser Conway

Kellyanne Conway is seen at the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington DC

President Donald Trump said that will not fire top adviser Kellyanne Conway after a government watchdog claimed she violated the Hatch Act, a law that prohibits federal employees from activities that can influence an election.

His comments came a day after the Office of Special Counsel publicly recommended Conway's removal from federal office, calling her a "repeat offender".

President Trump in a phone call with "Fox & Friends" says he will not fire his counselor amid accusations that she violated the Hatch Act, saying her freedom of speech is trying to be taken away. "I think she's a terrific person, she's a tremendous spokesperson, she's been loyal, she's been - she's just a great person, I would certainly not think - based on what I saw yesterday, how could you do that?"

"She's got to have a right of responding to questions", he said.

The office is unrelated to Robert Mueller and his investigation. "I'm going to get a very strong briefing on it, so we'll see, but it seems to me to be very unfair".

Special Counsel Henry Kerner, meanwhile, defended his office's work in an interview with Fox News on Thursday. If Ms. Conway were any other federal employee, her multiple violations would nearly certainly result in removal from her federal position by the Merit Systems Protection Board.

"As a highly visible member of the Administration, Ms. Conway's violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions", the OSC said.

"The Office of Special Counsel's (OSC) unprecedented actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process", he said.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani also slammed the report, writing on Twitter early Friday: "Applying the Hatch Act to someone appointed as a communicator for the President is an absurd contradiction".

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