Kellyanne Conway Defies Committee Subpoena
Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the Committee will move forward to hold Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway in contempt of Congress if she continues to defy a duly authorized bipartisan subpoena for her testimony about her repeated violations of federal law.
The Committee convened a hearing today to examine the independent Office of Special Counsel’s findings that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act, the agency’s recommendation that Conway be terminated, and Conway’s compliance with other federal ethics laws.
The White House sent a letter fifteen minutes prior to the hearing to say Conway would not appear at today’s hearing and asserting that she “is absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to her service as a senior advisor to the President.”
Below is Chairman Cummings’ opening and closing statements, as prepared for delivery.
Click here to watch Chairman Cummings’ opening and closing statement.
Chairman Elijah E. Cummings
Hearing on “Violations of the Hatch Act Under the
Trump Administration, Part II: Kellyanne Conway”
July 15, 2019
Today, the Committee was scheduled to hear testimony from Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, about her repeated violations of federal laws.
This is the second time in three weeks our Committee has attempted to obtain her testimony. We invited her to appear voluntarily at a hearing on June 26, but she refused. The Committee then voted to authorize a subpoena to compel her to testify here today. In defiance of that subpoena, Ms. Conway is again refusing to appear.
Since Ms. Conway joined the White House in January 2017, she has repeatedly and flagrantly abused her position of trust.
In March 2017, the Office of Government Ethics recommended that the White House discipline Ms. Conway for using her official position to promote Ivanka Trump’s private business during an interview on Fox and Friends. Rather than holding Ms. Conway accountable, the White House minimized the seriousness of Ms. Conway’s violation by claiming that it was made in a “light, off-hand manner.”
In October 2017, the Committee discovered that Ms. Conway wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars by traveling around the country on private jets with former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. Secretary Price paid the taxpayers back, and he then resigned. Ms. Conway refused to reimburse taxpayers and faced no disciplinary action at all from President Trump.
Most recently, on June 13, 2019, the independent Office of Special Counsel, which is led by Henry Kerner—who was appointed by President Trump—issued a report recommending that President Trump fire Ms. Conway for “persistent, notorious, and deliberate” violations of the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official positions for partisan political purposes. The law ensures that the federal government is administered in a nonpartisan manner and that federal employees are protected from political coercion in the workplace.
Mr. Kerner testified before our Committee for more than three hours about Ms. Conway’s violations of federal law. He called them “clear, repeated, and knowing violations of the Hatch Act.”
He also warned that since President Trump is not taking any disciplinary action against Ms. Conway, he is sending a “false message to other Federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act or that senior officials are above the law.”
Now, today, Ms. Conway is violating a duly authorized subpoena issued by this Committee. Ms. Conway is required to be here today to address her multiple violations of federal law, many of which occurred on national television.
Why is she not here? Just 25 minutes ago, the White House sent a letter to the Committee claiming Ms. Conway is “absolutely immune” from having to testify before Congress simply because she works in the White House.
That is a completely baseless claim. Our Committee has heard testimony from many White House officials under both Republican and Democratic Administrations.
Examples include multiple White House Counsels, the Deputy Counsel to the President, an Associate Counsel to the President, a Deputy Assistant to the President, and the Director of the White House Office of Security.
This is a clear cut case. We are not requiring her to testify about advice she gave the President or about the White House’s policy decisions. We are requiring her to testify before Congress about her multiple violations of federal law, her waste of taxpayer funds, and her actions that compromise public confidence in the integrity of the federal government.
This illegal activity—and the ongoing effort to cover it up—must not be allowed to stand. This is bigger than just the Hatch Act or any other law. This is about holding our government to the highest standard and not allowing individuals appointed by the President to be given special treatment when they flagrantly violate the law.
We hope Ms. Conway will reconsider. But if she does not, we will hold a business meeting on July 25 to hold her in contempt. I urge Ms. Conway to help us avoid that situation by agreeing to testify before the Committee. Our goal is to hear from Ms. Conway. If she does not change course, we have no choice but to hold her accountable.
Chairman Elijah E. Cummings
Hearing on “Violations of the Hatch Act Under the Trump Administration Part II: Kellyanne Conway”
July 15, 2019
I am disappointed that Ms. Conway chose to defy the Committee’s duly authorized subpoena for her appearance today. I hope the White House will reconsider its position and cooperate with the Committee.
This hearing is adjourned.