The White House asked Kellyanne Conway, who serves as counselor to President Trump and was Trump’s campaign manager during the 2016 election, not to testify before a House Oversight and Reform committee on Monday, July 15.
The House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed Conway to answer questions in response to the committee’s accusation that she violated provisions of the Hatch Act.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone informed the House Committee, chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), that Conway would not attend Monday’s hearing. In a written letter, Cipollone stated, “The long-standing principle of immunity for senior advisers to the President is firmly rooted in the Constitution’s separation of powers and protects the core functions of the presidency.”
Cipollone continued, “We are adhering to this well-established precedent in order to ensure that future presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the President.”
The House Oversight Committee had asked Conway to testify voluntarily and then issued a congressional subpoena on June 25, when she declined.
The Hatch Act of 1939 is a United States federal law that prohibits non-policymaking personnel in the executive branch of government from using various forms of bribery or intimidation to gain influence in political activities. In March of last year, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) sent President Trump a letter accusing Conway of violating the Hatch Act when she shared her opinions of political candidates in media interviews.
The OSC letter stated, “Ms. Conway gave media interviews in her official capacity on November 20 and December 6, 2017. During both interviews she impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the outcome of an election.”
In other words, as a non-policymaking employee of the executive branch, Conway was not allowed to share her political views when being interviewed.
The White House has said that it will continue to reject congressional subpoenas on matters the administration feels do not have a direct legislative purpose.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement Monday, accusing House Democrats of engaging in partisan politics in order to “harass the President and his close advisers.” Grisham further stated, “Democrats continue to overreach and politicize the Office of Special Counsel—this time, by trying to silence Kellyanne Conway with ill-founded, phony allegations about the Hatch Act.”
Cummings indicated that the House Oversight Committee is prepared to hold Conway in contempt of Congress if she refuses to testify before July 25.