WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump defended senior aide Kellyanne Conway on Friday from a watchdog report that found she violated a federal law that prohibits political speech in her official capacity, calling her words an expression of “free speech.”
Trump dismissed the recommendation from the Office of Special Counsel that Conway be removed from her job for "egregious, notorious and ongoing" violations of the Hatch Act.
Trump said he was briefed on the report, but would not fire Conway.
"It looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right of free speech," Trump said during an interview on Fox and Friends. "No, I’m not going to fire her. I think she's a terrific person... I think you’re entitled to free speech in this country."
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Special Counsel Henry Kerner, whose office is separate from that of former special counsel Robert Mueller, said in a letter Thursday that his office had investigated aides to presidents of both parties and never before found repeated violations by the same person.
Conway disparaged Democratic presidential candidates and spoke for and against Alabama candidates for U.S. Senate in 2017, according to the Office of Special Counsel. The Hatch Act is intended to prevent public officials from using their taxpayer-funded office to conduct partisan politics.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump says he won't fire Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act, defends her words as 'free speech'