Earlier this month, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel issued a report recommending White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway be removed from federal service—that is, fired—for her repeated and unapologetic violations of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act bars government employees from engaging in campaign-related activities in their official government capacity; in tweets and television appearances, however, Conway regularly violates those constraints with attacks on Trump’s Democratic challengers. To those challenging her on her violations, Conway has responded, “Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
On Wednesday, Office of Special Counsel chief Henry Kerner, himself a Trump appointee, will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The Daily Beast obtained the written testimony he has submitted to the committee in preparation for that hearing, and it is absolutely blistering.
Kerner writes that Conway’s conduct “reflects not a misunderstanding of the law, but rather a disregard for it,” and that his office “repeatedly offered Ms. Conway the opportunity to come into compliance with the law. She refused to do so. In fact, the frequency of her Hatch Act violations only increased.” He calls her violations “egregious, repeated, and very public.”
He also warns that Conway’s utter disregard for the law “hurts both federal employees, who may believe that senior officials can act with complete disregard for the Hatch Act, and the American people, who may question the nonpartisan operation of their government.”
This has been yet another failed test for Trump. His own appointed ethics watchdog issued a report stating that one of the White House’s most visible public officials was not only regularly violating a specific U.S. law, but doing so with open public contempt. There is no question that she has continued to violate the law with full knowledge that she was doing so, challenging the authority of federal watchdogs to take any action in response. And her behavior sends clear signals that Trump-appointed officials and other federal employees should consider themselves no longer bound by U.S. laws in their political defenses of Trump.
Even in the face of egregious, specific violations of a federal law, Trump has refused to act against one of his top advisers. It is a clear-cut violation of his own oath of office, a promise to faithfully defend this nation’s laws, and yet another self-evidently impeachable offense.
Kerner’s oral testimony will be delivered Wednesday. As of yet, there appears to be no White House effort to block him from appearing.