US lawmakers threaten to subpoena Trump aide Conway

Senior adviser to the US President Kellyanne Conway in the White House in Washington, DC on June 13, 2019. She has been accused of violating the 1939 Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in some political activities.
Senior adviser to the US President Kellyanne Conway in the White House in Washington, DC on June 13, 2019. She has been accused of violating the 1939 Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in some political activities.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A United States House of Representatives panel warned in a letter that it could subpoena the testimony of Ms Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, if she does not appear at a scheduled hearing this week.

The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Democrat Elijah Cummings, said it would vote on a potential subpoena if Ms Conway does not testify before lawmakers at a scheduled Wednesday (June 26) session focused on her alleged violations of the Hatch Act.

The 1939 law prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in some political activities.

The hearing was scheduled after the Office of Special Counsel, a US government watchdog agency, earlier this month recommended that Ms Conway be fired for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.

Mr Trump has said he would not fire 52-year-old Conway, a former political pollster who became Mr Trump's campaign manager in 2016 and the first woman to oversee a winning US presidential campaign.

If Ms Conway does not testify at the hearing, the Committee plans to hold a business meeting to consider authorising a subpoena for the White House adviser for "testimony in connection with her failure to comply with the Hatch Act and ethics laws", Mr Cummings wrote in a letter to Committee members dated last Friday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

The threat is a sign of growing frustration among House Democrats who have been thwarted in their efforts to hold the Trump administration to account. Senior administration officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney-General William Barr have all defied subpoena requests from Democratic-led House panels in recent months.

Now serving as counsellor to the president at the White House, Ms Conway regularly defends Mr Trump and attacks his rivals online and in television interviews, often on the White House grounds.

The Special Counsel's office, an independent agency, is run by lawyer Henry Kerner, who was confirmed by the Senate in October 2017 after Mr Trump nominated him for the position.