One part of the #Resistance has been an unceasing lawfare attack upon members of President Trump’s inner circle. Virtually no one who helped propel President Trump to victory is still in government. In some cases, like Lewandowki and Manafort and Bannon, this is a manifestly good thing, but in most cases one senses a concerted effort to drive out people Trump trusts in order to hamstring his ability to act.
The latest episode in this drama involves Kellyanne Conway. Conway, despite being married to possibly the most disloyal spouse in the history of the institution of marriage, remains one of the most effect and most high profile advocates for President Trump and his policies. This has made her a target.
Back in may the progressive smear merchants at the grotesquely and Orwellian named Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, the office charged with investigating violations of the Hatch Act by Republicans. (Let me digress here for a second and confess that in the not-too-distant past here at RedState we had NeverTrump contributors refer to CREW as a “non-partisan watchdog” group in order to launder the vendetta they were obviously pursuing. For that I apologize.) Conway was insufficiently deferential to various Democrats in here media and social media comments and this was enough for OSC to launch an investigation. Conway, in fairness to OSC, is sort of aggravating the situation. She was under one investigation when CREW filed this complaint and was found to be in violation of the Hatch Act earlier in the administration. Back in late may she was asked about this by reporters, to call her response dismissive is to reduce the impact of dismissive comments everywhere:
When reporters noted the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found she violated the Hatch Act with two interviews she gave in late 2017, Conway was dismissive.
“Blah, blah, blah,” she said as one reporter recounted the OSC’s findings.
“If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work,” Conway said.
“Let me know when the jail sentence starts,” she added.
Today OSC recommended that the White House fire Conway:
The Office of Special Counsel on Thursday recommended the removal of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway from federal office for violating the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in political activity in the course of their work.
The report submitted to President Trump found that Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.” The agency described her as a “repeat offender.”
In an interview, Special Counsel Henry Kerner called his recommendation that a political appointee of Conway’s stature be fired “unprecedented.”
“You know what else is unprecedented?” said Kerner, a Trump appointee who has run the agency since December 2017. “Kellyanne Conway’s behavior.”
“In interview after interview, she uses her official capacity to disparage announced candidates, which is not allowed,” he said, adding: “What kind of example does that send to the federal workforce? If you’re high enough up in the White House, you break the law, but if you’re a postal carrier or a regular federal worker, you lose your job?”
Unless you are Deputy FBI Director and your wife is running as a Democrat for a state senate seat and you appear in her campaign literature and pimp her candidacy using your official email…then YOLO, baby.
The White House doesn’t seem to be overly concerned:
White House releases letter sent to Office of Special Counsel regarding recommendation to fire Kellyanne Conway. Calls the recommendation "outrageous" and "unprecedented." pic.twitter.com/7i9XluY77o
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) June 13, 2019
On some of this the White House is actually correct. OSC is required to let the subject of an investigation read and respond to the report before it is finalized. That doesn’t seem to have been done here. By and large, the White House is saying that employees of the Executive Office of the President are employed as political actors, not as members of the administration. Because OSC opinions are only advisory in regards to presidential appointees, in other words, they can’t require the White House to do anything with their opinion, this was simply an act of defiance and a bit of acting out because Conway made it clear where she stood.
One huge marker the White House is laying down is saying OSC can’t regulate social media use because OSC has held that view for some time and they have ruled than a federal employ simply sharing/retweeting an invitation to a political rally or fundraiser is a violation of the law.
I think the doomsday scenario laid out by OSC’s director Henry Kerner is overblown and more of a reflection of his failure to come to grips with his own impotence than anything else. Quite honestly, most feds are mature enough to understand that people on the personal staff of the president aren’t actually civil servants. And so long as OSC can come after them for violating the Hatch Act, they will obey it to the extent they always have.