Gov't agency calls on Trump to fire Conway; Sanders to leave WH press office
President Donald Trump (l) embraces White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (r) at the White House after announcing on June 13, 2019, that she will be stepping down from her post at the end of the month. EFE-EPA/ Shawn Thew
President Donald Trump presides at a White House meeting with US governors on June 13, 2019. EFE-EPA/ Shawn Thew
Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump's close adviser on political matters, attends a meeting with US governors on June 13, 2019, at the White House. EFE-EPA/ Shawn Thew
Washington, Jun 13 (efe-epa).- An independent US government agency on Thursday recommended that President Donald Trump fire presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, accusing her of multiple instances of violating the law that prohibits top government officials from using their position to influence the country's elections.
Trump received a report from the Office of the Special Counsel, an independent organization that monitors possible legal violations within the government and accused Conway of violating the so-called Hatch Act on numerous occasions.
Conway, one of the White House figures who is most prominent in the media, allegedly broke that law multiple times.
"As a highly visible member of the administration, Ms. Conway's violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions," Henry J. Kerner, appointed by Trump to head the OSC in 2017, said in a letter to the president. "Her actions erode the principal foundation of our democratic system - the rule of law."
The OSC, which has nothing to do with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's independent investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, said in the letter that Conway "violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media."
The agency determined last year that Conway had violated the 1939 law by promoting the Senate candidacy of Roy Moore, a Republican former judge accused of sexually abusing minors and who ultimately lost his bid for a seat in the upper house.
In 2017, in addition, Conway, had to get legal advice after pushing on television the clothing line of Ivanka Trump, the president's oldest child and a business magnate in her own right.
Other instances cited in the OSC report include Conway's remarks on Fox News disparaging candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, none of whom are Republicans.
Trump did not comment on the matter during a White House event with governors on Thursday, which Conway attended, and his office said that he is not planning to take any action against his influential adviser.
White House spokesman Steven Groves told EFE that "the unprecedented actions of the OSC against ... Conway violate her constitutional rights to freedom of expression and due process."
White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a lengthy rebuttal letter to the 17-page OSC report that it "is 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."
"OSC's overbroad and unsupported interpretation of the Hatch Act risks violating Ms. Conway's First Amendment rights and chills the free speech of all government employees," he added.
Conway, 52, was Trump's third and last campaign chief during his 2016 presidential campaign, and since he entered office she has been closely involved in issues related to party policy and election strategy.
Meanwhile, also on Thursday, Trump announced that his long-time press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, will leave her post at the end of this month.
"After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas ... She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas - she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!" Trump tweeted.
Sanders' father, Mike Huckabee, was governor of Arkansas from 1996-2007.
The last time Sanders held an official press conference at the White House was on March 11, a record 94 days ago during which time the presidential spokesperson did not appear before the media. Her replacement has not yet been announced.