White House says it will defy any House Oversight subpoena of Kellyanne Conway
A few weeks ago, the House Oversight Committee requested that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appear at tomorrow’s hearing on the Office of Special Counsel’s recommendation that she be removed from her post—and government entirely—for repeated and willful violations of the Hatch Act, a prohibition against public officials using their government posts to engage in campaign-related activities. OSC head Henry Kerner, himself a Trump appointee, is expected to appear and has already provided blistering written testimony on Conway’s behavior.
Conway will not take advantage of this opportunity to clear her name, however. The Trump White House has responded to the committee with yet another round of slash-and-burn immunity claims, this time asserting that even if lawmakers vote tomorrow to issue a subpoena to Conway, the White House will not respect it. Since Conway works in the White House as a presidential counselor, White House lawyers are claiming that she is immune from congressional subpoenas pertaining even to her own alleged abuses of her position.
This is another obviously asinine argument: There is no indication that Conway will be asked about her communications with Trump or, in fact, with any other of the creatures that scuttle through the White House. There is therefore no possible executive privilege claim; Team Trump is instead insisting that Conway is immune from being compelled to testify even about her own alleged illegal acts due to her raw proximity to the president. It is, yet again, a claim that the Trump White House can nullify congressional investigative powers as it pleases, and for any purpose.
Even offering up such an argument could be considered an impeachable offense. Trump was presented a report from his own appointed watchdog describing not only repeated illegal acts by a top administration official, but that official’s open contempt for the law and for those that would have her follow it. His refusal to take action is a violation of his oath of office. Yet again, Trump responds to illegal acts by those around him by choosing to insert himself as accomplice.