House panel votes to subpoena Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act testimony

The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday voted to subpoena White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayNBC signs Mueller 'pit bull' prosecutor Andrew Weissman as legal analyst George Conway and Trump Jr. trade personal insults during impeachment hearing Conway: Trump reacted 'pretty well' to impeachment hearing because 'there was nothing new' MORE after she did not appear voluntarily at a hearing focused on her repeated alleged violations of the Hatch Act.

The committee voted 25-16 to compel Conway's testimony following roughly 30 minutes of arguments over the validity of the Office of Special Counsel's (OSC) findings that she repeatedly violated the law, which prohibits federal officials from weighing in on elections in their government capacity.

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashTrump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon Hoyer: We are going to move as fast 'as the facts and truth dictate' on open hearings Conway spars with Wallace on whether White House will cooperate with impeachment inquiry after formal vote MORE (Mich.) was the lone Republican to side with Democrats to authorize the subpoena.

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The White House blocked Conway from appearing for public testimony before the committee Wednesday, citing "long-standing precedent" of declining to offer presidential advisers for congressional testimony.

"There are rarely issues that come before our committee that are so clear-cut, but this is one of them," committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaya Rockeymoore Cummings reports surgery was a success, will return to campaign trail The Hill's Morning Report — Public impeachment drama resumes today Maloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump MORE (D-Md.) said in opening remarks. "This is about right and wrong. This is about the core principle of our precious democracy, that nobody, not one person, nobody in this country is above the law."

Cummings called the White House's reasoning for blocking Conway's testimony "baseless," noting the committee was not seeking information on private conversations involving the president.

The OSC, which is unrelated to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE, sent a report to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE earlier in June stating that Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act. The office previously found her in violation for her comments on a 2017 special U.S. Senate election in Alabama, and more recently found she violated the law with comments about 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. The June report also noted Conway's public indifference toward the violations.

Henry Kerner, the head of the OSC and author of the report, testified Wednesday that Conway's conduct "created an unprecedented challenge to OSC's ability to enforce the Hatch Act.

"Her conduct sent a false message to other federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act, or that senior officials are above the law," Kerner testified. "I'm here to emphatically say that's not the case."

The White House and Conway have rejected the office's findings. The White House counsel argued the report violated Conway's free speech rights, while Conway has suggested the law may not apply to her.

Trump has said he has no plans to remove Conway.

Wednesday's subpoena vote was preceded by an intense back-and-forth between Cummings and Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSix memorable moments from Ex-Ukraine ambassador Yovanovitch's public testimony Democrats say Trump tweet is 'witness intimidation,' fuels impeachment push Live coverage: Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies in public impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ohio) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsDemocrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing House Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay Key takeaways from first public impeachment hearing MORE (R-N.C.). The latter two, who are fierce defenders of the president, argued the OSC's report was personally and politically motivated.

Jordan, the committee's ranking member, called the report "unprecedented" and "unfair," while Meadows asserted Conway had not even violated the law.

Kerner, a Trump appointee who described himself as a "conservative Republican," noted in his opening remarks that he authored a report criticizing the IRS under the Obama administration for targeting conservative groups.