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White House rejects House panel's request for Conway's testimony

John Harney and Billy House, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The White House on Monday evening told the chairman of a House committee that Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to President Donald Trump, would not testify before the panel.

Last week, a government watchdog recommended that Conway be "removed from federal service" for disparaging Democratic presidential candidates in her official capacity as a senior White House adviser.

A report by the independent U.S. Office of Special Counsel accused Conway of violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from conducting politics while acting in their capacity as a federal employee.

Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform who wants Conway to testify about the Hatch Act allegations, has put forth a resolution to subpoena her.

"In accordance with long-standing precedent, we respectfully decline the invitation to make Ms. Conway available for testimony before the committee," White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Cummings.

''As you know, the precedent for members of the White House staff to decline invitations to testify before congressional committees has been consistently adhered to by administrations of both political parties, and is based on clearly established constitutional doctrines," Cipollone said.

Trump told Fox News last week that he had no intention of firing Conway.

The White House called the report "deeply flawed" and violating Conway's constitutional right to free speech.

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Cipollone's letter was yet another instance of the Trump administration's refusal to cooperate with congressional inquiries led by Democrats who now control the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week accused the president of a "campaign of blanket, unprecedented obstruction" from "witness intimidation to blanket stonewalling to spurious claims of executive privilege, absolute immunity and lack of legislative purpose."

(Alyza Sebenius contributed to this report.)

(c)2019 Bloomberg News

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