By Jon Dougherty
White House officials are shaking their heads at a recommendation by the Office of Special Counsel that POTUS Donald Trump actually fire top counselor Kellyanne Conway for alleged violations of the Hatch Act — for, apparently, criticizing Democrats in her ‘official’ capacity.
In an unusually scathing report, the OSC — which is similarly named to an office previous run by Robert Mueller — cited “numerous violations” of the federal law that limits certain political activities of federal employees.
In particular, the OSC cited Conway for “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.”
Yes, you read that correctly. The OSC wants Conway fired because she dared criticize Democrats in her official capacity as a defender of the Trump administration and the president himself (against attacks by “Democratic presidential candidates”).
The OSC report said that “Ms. Conway regularly participated in official media interviews in her capacity as a White House spokesperson to answer reporters’ questions about the Administration. Beginning in February 2019, Ms. Conway, during official media appearances, engaged in a pattern of partisan attacks on several Democratic Party candidates shortly after they announced their candidacy for President,” detailing instances involving Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
The OSC also stated that in one Feb. 19 interview on “Fox & Friends,” Conway “insinuated that Senator Booker was ‘sexist’ and a ‘tinny’ ‘motivational speaker,’” and claimed Warren, D-Mass., was “’lying’” about her ethnicity. Conway also “attacked” O’Rourke for not “thinking the women running are good enough to be President.”
The report also referenced comments Conway made about former Vice President Joe Biden in which she criticized his presidential campaign announcement video as “very dark and spooky.” In addition, she also slammed Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders as “two old white straight men career politicians.”
“Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law,” the OSC said in a statement Thursday, noting that she has been a “repeat offender.”
A bewildered White House pushed back hard against the recommendation, calling it “unprecedented.”
“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. Others, of all political views, have objected to the OSC’s unclear and unevenly applied rules which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees,” deputy press secretary Steven Groves said.
“Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations – and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Special Counsel Henry Kerner that the OSC’s decision was “outrageous,” Fox News reported.
In a point-by-point takedown of the OSC, Cipollone noted that the recommendation was “based on multiple fundamental legal and factual errors, makes unfair and unsupported claims against a close adviser to the President, is the product of a blatantly unfair process that ignored statutory notice requirements, and has been influenced by various inappropriate considerations.”
The OSC acted on two complaints filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a Left-wing harassment organization that has filed legal actions galore against the Trump administration.
For more clarification about who and what CREW is, from its website:
The president violates the Constitution on a daily basis, administration officials defy ethics laws, while the corrupting influence of money in politics persists across party lines and across the country. This cannot stand. CREW has taken more than 400 legal actions since the beginning of this administration to fight for a government that is accountable to the people, rather than one that is operating in secret, corrupted by self interest.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10