A federal watchdog agency recommended on Thursday that White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway be "removed from service" citing repeated violations on a law that bans federal employees from political activity.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel - not to be confused with former special counsel Robert Mueller - sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday, telling him "Conway has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act during her official media appearances by making statements directed at the success of your reelection campaign or at the failure of candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination for President".
It's a separate agency responsible for policing the Hatch Act, the law that prohibits government employees from politicking while on government time.
"As a result, the current Report would serve only to undermine public confidence in OSC and its procedures", a lengthy letter written by Counsel to the President Pat Cipollone to Special Counsel Henry Kerner states.
"Moreover, during a media interview on May 29, 2019, Ms. Conway downplayed the significance of the law as applied to her".
White House counsel's office staff spoke with Kerner, according to the letter, to talk about the timing of the request for a response.
Cipollone also says that the OSC's interpretation of the Hatch Act - to forbid the use of official positions for partisan political purposes - as violating Conway's First Amendment rights.
Groves made his statement to CNBC's Eamon Javers, who tweeted he was in the press office when the verdict from OSC came in.
The letter comes after a March 2018 report in which the OSC detailed a series of violations that occurred over the course of two television interviews wherein Conway openly advocated for disgraced Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and disparaged his ultimately victorious opponent, Democrat Doug Jones. "Her actions erode the principal foundation of our democratic system - the rule of law".
It remains to be seen how President Trump will respond to the recommendation, though OSC has limited power to force its recommendation.
Others sanctioned by the Office of Special Counsel for political messages include former interior secretary Ryan Zinke; Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's spokeswoman; Dan Scavino, former White House social media director; and Nikki Haley, former USA ambassador to the United Nations.
Cipollone called OSC's recommendation for firing Conway "as outrageous as it is unprecedented".
Mr. Kerner said his office has had to investigate senior officials from both parties before, but Ms. Conway's case is the worst they've ever had.
Spokesman Steve Groves accused the Office of the Special Counsel of chilling free speech and "weaponizing" the Hatch Act against the White House. The president and vice president are exempted by the rule.
The report said that Conway has ignored multiple opportunities pointed out by the OSC to come into compliance with the Hatch Act.
"Let me know when the jail sentence starts", Conway retorted.
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