President Donald Trump said Friday that he would not fire his adviser Kellyanne Conway, despite the US Office of Special Counsel’s recommendation that she be removed from federal service for several violations of the Hatch Act.
“No, I’m not going to fire her. I think she’s a terrific person,” Trump told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”
“I got briefed on it yesterday and it looks to me like they’re trying to take away their right of free speech. And that’s just not fair,” Trump added. “She’s got to have the right of responding to questions.”
The US Office of Special Counsel recommended on Thursday that Conway be removed from federal service, saying she violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions.
The office said Conway erred by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.”
The office is unrelated to Robert Mueller and his investigation.
Trump said Friday he was going to briefed on this further later in the day.
“I’m going to get a very strong briefing on it. I’ll see. But it seems to me to be very unfair, it’s called freedom of speech,” he said.
Special counsel Henry Kerner wrote in a letter to Trump Thursday that his office’s investigative report found that Conway was a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act.
“Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system – the rule of law,” the letter said.
“If Ms. Conway were any other federal employee, her multiple violations of the law would almost certainly result in her removal from her federal position,” Kerner’s letter said. “Never has (the office) had to issue multiple reports to the President concerning Hatch Act violations by the same individual.”
A separate statement from the Office of the Special Counsel, issued alongside the report, said that “given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, (the office) recommends that she be removed from federal service.”
White House counsel Pat Cipollone rebuked the report in a letter response to the special counsel’s office, writing that the office did not give the White House or Conway time to respond to the report.
Cipollone also said that Conway’s social media statements and media interviews did not constitute Hatch Act violations.