(Bloomberg) -- White House counselor Kellyanne Conway won’t appear at a House hearing Monday on whether she violated a law prohibiting administration officials from engaging in political work while on the public payroll.
President Donald Trump directed her to skip the hearing “in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the President,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings.
The Department of Justice, he wrote, “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 the president,” Cipollone wrote.
Cummings said at the hearing, which proceeded without Conway, that he would hold a vote on July 25 to hold her in contempt of Congress.
She was the only witness listed for a scheduled hearing of Cummings’ panel titled “Violations of the Hatch Act Under the Trump Administration.” The Democratic-controlled committee voted last month to subpoena her after she previously refused to testify.
The government’s independent Office of Special Counsel said in June that Conway had repeatedly violated the law and should be fired. Conway and the White House have criticized the OSC for its finding, calling it a violation of Conway’s First Amendment rights, and Trump has said he won’t dismiss her.
The OSC has said she broke the law by “engaging in both official and political activity on her Twitter account, @kellyannePolls” and by attacking Democratic presidential candidates in media interviews.
Conway has “ignored OSC’s requests” to come into compliance with the Hatch Act and has declined to respond to the office’s reports, it said.
“If Ms. Conway were any other federal employee, her multiple violations of the law would almost certainly result in removal from her federal position,” the office said in a June 13 letter to Trump.
The oversight panel’s top Republican, Jim Jordan of Ohio, called the allegations “ridiculous.” He said that federal employees can’t come to work and hand out election fliers or raise money for campaigns, “but a senior adviser to the president of the United States can sure as heck go on cable news shows and answer questions.”
--With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs.
To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Josh Wingrove in Washington at email@example.com;Jarrell Dillard in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at email@example.com, Joe Sobczyk
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.