Government watchdog: Trump aide Conway should be fired for political comments

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks with the news media after giving an interview to Fox News outside of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis – RC1B3C864400

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. government watchdog agency on Thursday recommended Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, be fired for repeatedly violating U.S. law with political comments while serving in the White House.

The White House immediately rejected the special counsel office’s ruling.

A statement from the Office of Special Counsel cited Conway’s comments in television interviews and social media posts as violations of the Hatch Act, a 1939 law prohibiting executive branch employees from engaging in some political activities. The president, vice president and certain other senior officials are exempted.

The OSC referred to disparaging comments Conway made about Democratic presidential candidates.

“Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service,” the statement said.

Conway is one of Trump’s most loyal aides and fiercest defenders and is leading White House efforts on reducing deaths by opioids. Trump likely would be loathe to have her leave the White House right when he is cranking up his re-election campaign.

White House deputy press secretary Steven Groves said the OSC action violated Conway’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process and was pushed by media pressure and liberal organizations.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott

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