President Trump on Friday said he will not fire White House counselor Kellyanne Conway after a federal watchdog recommended that she be removed for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act by engaging in partisan political activity on behalf of her boss.
“No, I’m not going to fire her,” the president said on Fox News. “I think she’s a terrific person. She’s a tremendous spokeswoman. She’s been loyal. She’s just a great person.”
Trump characterized the finding by the Office of the Special Counsel as an infringement on Conways First Amendment rights.
It looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right of free speech that’s just not fair, he said.
The OSC which is unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office informed Trump on Thursday that Conway has been a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity on TV and social media.
“She’s got to have a right of responding to questions,” Trump said Friday, adding that he also would not counsel Conway to tone down her comments.
It doesn’t work that way, he said, arguing that Conway was just responding to political attacks against him.
“A person wouldnt be able to express themselves, and I just dont see it,” he added.
The White House is not bound by the recommendation of the OSC, which is run by Henry Kerner, a Trump nominee.
Special Counsel Henry Kerner said Thursday on Fox News that the president has any option hed like to reprimand or not to reprimand.
It is up to the presidents discretion and we respect that, he added. I am a Trump appointee I have no animus toward Kellyanne whatsoever. My job is to make sure the federal workforce stay as depoliticized and as fair as possible.
White House deputy press secretary Steven Groves said in a statement that the OSC’s actions are “deeply flawed.”
The Office of Special Counsels (OSC) unprecedented actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process, he said.
Others, of all political views, have objected to the OSCs unclear and unevenly applied rules which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees.
House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said his committee will hold a hearing with the Office of Special Counsel on June 26 and will invite Conway to testify.