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House Oversight is holding a hearing on Kellyanne Conway's alleged violations of the Hatch Act now and are readying a vote to subpoena her for her testimony before Congress.
Chairman Elijah Cummings had this to say in his opening remarks:
“She knows Trump will not take any disciplinary action against her. Now they are arguing the Hatch Act does not even apply to her. Tell that to all the other federal employees who have to adhere to this law.”
WH counsel claimed there were no violations “even assuming that the Hatch Act applies to the most senior advisers to the president in the White House.”
Cummings continued:
"The Hatch Act absolutely applies to Ms. Conway. Period. It is written in black and white, we are the committee on jurisdiction over this law and neither Congress nor the courts have ever suggested that a president’s advisers are exempt."
"Finally, the WH’s baseless arguments for refusing our request for Conway’s testimony – they sent a letter on Monday arguing that Conway is ‘absolutely immune’ from testifying - the claim that this principle has been ‘consistently adhered to’ – is simply not true."
"Congress has never accepted the claim. In fact, our committee has obtained testimony from numerous officials while they serve in the White House.
In the case of Ms. Conway, the WH argument have even less merit.'
"We’re not asking about any conversations she had with the president or advice she gave. Here we have a clear cut case of a federal employee violating federal law over and over and over and over again."
"We have video of that same fed. employee mocking the law itself & claiming it does not apply to her. We have the WH asserting that Congress may not question this employee or investigate her repeated violations or conduct oversight relating to the lgsltn this committee passed."
"This is the opposite of accountability and is contrary to our fundamental system of laws. Nobody is above the law. Not even Ms. Conway." - Cummings
Testifying today about the violations is Henry Kerner, special counsel with the Office of Special Counsel. (Totally unrelated to Mueller SPC). Kerner was nominated to his position by Trump in 2017. Both Rs and Ds in Senate approved him by a voice vote.
Ranking Republican on the committee, Jim Jordan, laced into Kerner, saying he was only testifying today because he had his "feelings hurt" by Conway because she wouldn't respond to requests in a timely manner.
Jordan says Conway didn't pay attention to Kerner because his "allegations were ridiculous." Says Dems cannot "target people for their political beliefs."
Jordan says it is unfair that Obama admin officials, like HHS Secy Kathleen Sebelius who was found to have violated the Hatch Act in 2012, don't face the same scrutiny as Conway. He calls it a partisan attack on the Trump admin.
When Kerner has a chance to speak though, he deviates from his prepared remarks to remind Jordan what actually happened with Sebelius.
"Some argue OSC is holding Conway to a higher standard or is being treated more harshly than Obama admin officials. The opposite is true. The career supervisors are aware of violations by Obama officials and recommendations are calibrated based on severity." - Kerner
HHS Sebelius acknowledged she committed two Hatch Act violations during a single event and she paid a fine.
"In contrast, Ms. Conway committed 10 separate Hatch Act violations, expresses no remorse and continues to express disdain for the law." - Kerner
NOW; For her failure to comply with federal ethics rules, the House Oversight Committee has voted in favor of subpoenaing White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, a bid that House Democrats ultimately hope will compel her to testify before Congress.
Ahead of the vote, as lawmakers debated the resolution's merits, Massachusetts Democrat Ayanna Pressley had this to say about Conway's claims that Democrats were only trying to silence her:
We offered a platform to speak for herself and she did not show up. OSC tried to engage several times and she never responded. She had yet another opportunity to respond to the report. She never engaged. Ms. Conway ignores OSC, ignores the Hatch Act and now ignores the committee.
Pressley continues: "This is completely disrespectful to us as coequal branch of government. The committee has no choice but to issue a subpoena."
VA Democrat Gerald Connolly also weighed in dismissing claims by Republicans Jordan and Meadows that Ds are doing this because of "some obsession about the President."
Connolly: "This is about the rule of law. This is about a report by a Trump administration official. He’s not a partisan. He’s not some wild-eyed liberal. He’s doing his job."
"If we take no action, every federal employee – there are 2 million – that are going to say, 'you’ve just embraced a double standard.'" He continues: "I can be hauled up for political activity but if you’re in the President’s favor, you can thumb your nose at the law.”
Kerner now testifying and tells the committee, yes, "it is the prerogative of the president" to decide what punishment to impose, if any, on Conway.
"That’s his choice. That’s consistent with the statute."
He continues:
"We’ve never had a repeat offender or had a situation where there were so many violations. Then ultimately, she made a comment to suggest she didn’t feel she was bound by the law. There’s no way to stay in fed employment while she feels she's not obligated to abide by this law”
You can read the letter issued to Trump by OSC about Conway here. It also includes OSC's report on their findings:
Rep Connolly asks Kerner if this all could have been resolved if she would have just responded to OSC's many requests. He says simply "Yes." and then replies, That's correct" when asked by Connolly if it has been "definitively determined" that she broke the law.
.@AOC pushes back against insinuations from GOP that the OSC finding on Conway is politically motivated or a bid against the Trump administration altogether. "This is not partisan because members of Trump’s admin do not violate the law to this extent that she does."

"She is being subject to these reports because she is in flagrant violation of the law. Frankly, when she doesn’t show up to her own congressional hearing, she's not just disrespecting Democrats, she disrespects every Republican member of this body..."
"And the power that each and every one of us has. This taps into a deeper narrative and pattern happening in this admin. They believe the rule of law only belongs and applies to some and not others."
.@AOC continues: "We’re 20 years away from when POTUS demanded the death penalty for the “Central Park 5” in an ad for something they were accused of and innocent of. Here we have, the violation of a law and he won’t even issue a slap on the wrist. This is a pattern."
"Some ppl are subject to the rule of law & others aren't. When that happens, there is no rule of law at all and that’s why its important we ensure everyone is held accountable, whether it’s a billionaire or a kid on the street, we all must be held to to the same rule of law."
US Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett asks the committee to remember that the chair of the committee, Elijah Cummings, is deserving of respect in his position as leader there. Says when he gavels or calls order that should be respected. "We are grown," she said.
.@RepPressley went back up and replayed the tape of Conway when she told a reporter to tell her when she her jail sentence starts after Qs about Hatch Act violations first emerged.
Pressley, in less than 5 mins of inquiry, established a fact that nary a single Republican on committee thought to ask or did ask: Conway rec'd multiple training sessions on Hatch Act, including 1-1 training.
Pressley: "Did she know what the law was?"
Kerner: Yes.
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