The Slatest

Trump Says He Won’t Fire Kellyanne Conway Despite Report Finding “Persistent, Notorious, and Deliberate” Hatch Act Violations

White House aide Kellyanne Conway outside the West Wing May 23, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Of course. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Thursday, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway was called out for her repeated violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees for engaging in political activity on the job. The way Conway comports herself day-to-day, particularly as an administration surrogate on TV, it’s easy to forget that Conway is, you know, technically a public servant. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that enforces such laws for the federal work force, issued a scathing report that recommended Conway be fired for her “persistent, notorious, and deliberate Hatch Act violations” that “undermine[-] public confidence in the Executive branch.”

President Trump went on Fox News Friday morning to address the report and to state the obvious: “No, I’m not going to fire her,” Trump said. “She’s just a great person. . . . She’s got to have a right of responding to questions.” The Special Counsel’s office—which is unrelated to Robert Mueller and his investigation—found Conway’s behavior was egregious and merited removal.

Ms. Conway’s persistent, notorious, and deliberate Hatch Act violations have created an unprecedented challenge to this office’s ability to enforce the Act, as we are statutorily charged. She has willfully and openly disregarded the law in full public view… Ms. Conway’s conduct undermines public confidence in the Executive branch and compromises the civil service system that the Hatch Act was intended to protect. Her knowing and blatant disregard for the law aggravates the severity of her numerous violations. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which adjudicates Hatch Act violations, repeatedly has held that removal is the appropriate discipline when employees were warned and/or had substantial knowledge before engaging in prohibited political activity. In accordance with MSPB precedent involving similar aggravating factors, OSC respectfully requests Ms. Conway’s removal from federal service.

“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,” special counsel Henry Kerner, a Trump nominee to the position, wrote in a letter to president Thursday. Trump responded Friday that he worried Conway’s constitutional rights were being infringed upon. “Well I got briefed on it yesterday, and it looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right to free speech,” Trump told Fox News.