White House counselor Kellyanne Conway now bears the undistinguished honor of having a Trump appointee take the unprecedented step of calling for her removal from government. That’s after the Office of Special Counsel — no, not Robert S. Mueller III — for the second time found that she has committed multiple violations of the Hatch Act.
Making the situation even more embarrassing for Conway: Just two weeks ago, she taunted the news media about her Hatch Act violations, asking when her “jail sentence” would begin.
Conway isn’t going to jail, and it also seems unlikely President Trump will act on the Office of Special Counsel’s recommendation. But given the news, it’s worth looking back on the May 29 clip — and the falsehoods, pomposity and general disdain for ethics rules Conway displays.
Let’s take it piece by piece.
After Conway attacked Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden from the White House grounds, reporters began noting her past violations of the Hatch Act, which bars government officials who are speaking in their official capacities from engaging in partisan political speech.
Conway challenged them to tell her what the Hatch Act was and how you violate it, and one of them took her on:
REPORTER: The Hatch Act [inaudible] political activity by federal employees. You’re covered by the Hatch Act, and in fact, the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel found that you’ve twice violated the Hatch Act in 2018, while speaking about the Alabama special senatorial election.
CONWAY: And? And I didn’t. They actually misquoted my interview.
CONWAY: Actually, Brian Kilmeade on “Fox & Friends” said, “So, vote Roy Moore?” And I said, “No, I’m not saying that. I could never say that.” You have to go back and pull the full quotes. I know it won’t fit in a tweet or won’t fit in a text, or it’s not an exciting soundbite or a chyron, but you have to go get the facts.
I pulled the full quotes, and this, quite simply, is not what happened. Here’s the transcript of the “Fox & Friends” interview. Conway is asked twice whether she is telling people to vote for Moore. Neither time does she say “no” or that she can’t say that.
Here’s the next part of Conway’s recent appearance:
REPORTER: I’m quoting the Office of Special Counsel which says —
CONWAY: I don’t really care. Listen —
QUESTION: — [inaudible] mixed official government business with political —
CONWAY: Right, blah, blah. Listen —
QUESTION: — [inaudible] about candidates in the Alabama special election.
CONWAY: Right. Blah, blah, blah. Right. I’m sorry, are you talking about something from a year and half ago? Do you have — do you have a relevant question for today? Because I’m happy to answer today.
Just two weeks after declaring Hatch Act questions to be not “relevant” because they were old, she has some fresh violations to answer for.
And the coup de grace:
CONWAY: If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work.
REPORTER: I’m not trying to silence you. The Office of Special Counsel said you violated it.
OTHER REPORTER: Kellyanne, is — is Roy Moore a standalone case or do you — or should we expect —
CONWAY (turning to first reporter): Let me know when the jail sentence starts.
Here was a top White House official all but scoffing at ethics rules and suggesting this was all just old news.
“Drain the swamp,” indeed.