White House to block Conway from testifying over alleged Hatch Act violations

The White House intends to block Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayKellyanne Conway knocks Biden, talks up Sanders in Wash Post op-ed Democrats sharpen case on second day of arguments 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits MORE from testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee later this week about alleged Hatch Act violations.

The administration said in a Monday letter to Oversight Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) that Conway would not testify, citing "long-standing precedent."

The White House decided on the move ahead of a Wednesday vote from the panel to subpoena Conway if she does not appear voluntarily.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE has staked out an uncompromising position thus far in stonewalling Democratic requests for testimony and documentation as part of ongoing investigations into the administration.

Conway was invited to appear before the panel on Wednesday alongside a representative from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). The federal watchdog issued a report to Trump earlier this month recommending that Conway be fired for repeated violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials from weighing in on elections in their official capacity.

The report cited Conway's comments critical of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and her lax attitude about past citations. She was previously found to be in violation of the Hatch Act for her remarks about the 2017 special U.S. Senate election in Alabama.

Conway and the White House have been defiant about the OSC's findings, accusing the watchdog of attempting to squelch her First Amendment rights and questioning whether she even violated the law.

Trump has said he has no plans to fire Conway despite the OSC's recommendation.

In an interview earlier Monday, Conway simultaneously insisted she had not violated the law, that the law did not apply to assistants to the president and that Democrats were attempting to silence her. She did not say in the interview whether she planned to testify.

"We think I’d be the first member of the West Wing to ever be hauled in front of Congress to talk about the Hatch Act," Conway said of the potential testimony.

Henry Kerner, a lawyer with OSC, is expected to say in his prepared testimony that he has no personal animus toward Conway, but that her cited remarks are no different than "partisan attacks that a campaign official would make."

—Updated at 7:43 p.m.