The firing of Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump's most loyal and longest-serving top White House aides, was recommended on Thursday by an internal government watchdog who said her blatant and repeated violation of the Hatch Act-which bars government employees from making political statements while operating in their official capacities-made a mockery of the statute.
Last month, the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the special counsel's office after Conway attacked 2020 Democratic presidential candidates - namely former vice president Joe Biden - in televised interviews while acting in her official government role.
Conway told reporters who encountered her in the White House press office, "I have no reaction".
Steven Groves, the White House deputy press secretary, dismissed the OSC's findings as "deeply flawed", before suggesting that Hatch Act restrictions violate Conway's free-speech rights.
The assembled journalists noted that she appeared to be violating the Hatch Act again.
OSC is an independent federal ethics agency that has no relationship with former Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.
Chris Cuomo, one of the "New Day" anchors, warned Conway that she needed to "be careful about the Hatch Act".
It said that in multiple media interviews and through social media postings beginning early this year, the 52-year-old Conway, acting as a White House spokesperson, engaged in partisan attacks on Democratic presidential hopefuls including U.S. senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, and former congressman Beto O'Rourke.
Although the special counsel's office acts as a federal investigative and prosecutorial agency and typically has great sway, Conway's fate is in the hands of Trump, her ultimate boss, and he has often singled her out for praise. "Conway must be removed and face consequences for her actions".
Conway's verified Twitter account, while not an official White House page, includes "Counselor" in its description.
The White House immediately rejected the special counsel office's ruling and demanded that it withdraw the report.
The White House was quick to rebuke the OSC letter today, however. While the president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act, that privilege does not extend to federal employees. "Let me know when the jail sentence starts". And on and on it goes.What's different about Trump - and Conway - is that this is a President who has been running for a second term, openly and actively, since nearly the second he was sworn in as president. The motivations included pressure to address media inquiries about Conway's remarks on May 29 and "the need to be mindful of interest from politicians outside the office".
"Can you leave, please?" she told him.
"Never has OSC had to issue multiple reports to the President concerning Hatch Act violations by the same individual", Kerner wrote.
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