White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday said she was “taking one for the team” by defying a House subpoena compelling her to testify on her multiple violations of the Hatch Act.
“They’re trying to silence me and take away my First Amendment rights,” she said in an interview on Fox News of her decision to skip the House Oversight hearing for which she received a subpoena to attend. “I would be happy to testify, just so we’re clear. I have nothing to hide. I have done nothing wrong.”
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Last month, Conway was cited by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency that oversees Hatch Act compliance, for multiple violations of the 1939 law that prohibits government employees from participating in political speech while performing their official duties. Conway was cited for speaking in her official capacity about both the 2020 election and 2017’s special Senate election in Alabama.
In an official report, OSC head Henry Kerner recommended Conway’s firing, a measure both Conway and President Donald Trump have categorically rejected.
In a letter to House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on Monday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Conway would be skipping the hearing. The Justice Department “has advised me that Ms. Conway is absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to her service as a senior adviser” to Trump, he told the committee.
Conway echoed that explanation in her interview with Fox.
“The chairman knows and everyone knows there is a long-standing bipartisan precedent, both parties have invoked it, that you claim immunity for the president’s senior advisers,” she argued, adding, “I obviously qualify as one.”
On Tuesday, Conway continued to insist she’d done nothing wrong, dismissing Kerner’s office as the “poor man’s Office of Special Counsel” being weaponized after former special counsel Robert Mueller — whose office is separate from Kerner’s — failed to bring her down. In fact, Conway was never a target of the probe, nor was she accused of wrongdoing by Mueller.
“This is about me going on TV and stating facts,” she said. “Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are old, they are white, they are male, they are career politicians. Joe Biden got elected to the Senate 49 years ago. That qualifies as a career politician.”
“I would love to go testify, but I’m taking one for the team here because there’s a long-standing tradition to claim immunity and not have people like me testify,” she claimed.
The rejection prompted Cummings to threaten to hold Conway in contempt of Congress if she did not honor the subpoena before July 25.
Conway is just the latest member of the Trump administration targeted by Democrats. The House is set to vote later this week to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress over a separate issue.
Cummings on Monday took issue with the White House’s assertion, calling the Conway matter “a clear-cut case.”
‘We are not requiring her to testify about advice she gave the president or about the White House’s policy decisions,” Cummings said during the hearing. “We are requiring her to testify before Congress about her multiple violations of federal law, her waste of taxpayer funds, and her actions that compromise public confidence in the integrity of the federal government.”