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Kellyanne Conway Subpoenaed By House Oversight Committee



Fresh off the heels of the Robert Mueller subpoena, the House Oversight Committee voted 25-16 Wednesday to pull in another testimony: White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

The decision occurred following a federal agency recommendation that Conway should be fired for repeatedly violating a law that limits the political activities of federal employees.

Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) warned that the Committee would vote to hold Conway in contempt should she ignore the subpoena. The issue was elevated after Conway was a no-show at the advice of White House counsel for the committee’s scheduled hearing.
According to CNN, earlier this month, the independent Office of Special Counsel sent the Trump administration a letter outlining Conway’s “numerous violations” of the Hatch Act, finding that from February to May she publicly criticized the field of Democratic presidential candidates and sought to boost the Trump campaign while in her official role at the White House.
Although the President and Vice President are exempt from the Hatch Act, employees of the White House are not. OSC’s letter to the President accompanying the report refers to Ms. Conway as a “repeat offender” and states: “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.”
The letter continued, “Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law.”
The report followed a March 2018 OSC report finding that Conway violated the Hatch Act during two separate television interviews in which she advocated for and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.
Moreover, during a media interview on May 29, 2019, Conway downplayed the significance of the law as applied to her. When asked about the Hatch Act, she stated, “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work,” and “let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
Like with other presidential appointees, the President has the authority to discipline Conway for violating the Hatch Act. Given that she is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, the Office made the recommendation that she be removed from federal service.
For his part, Trump said during an interview with Fox & Friends, “No, I’m not going to fire her, I think she’s a tremendous person, tremendous spokesperson, she’s loyal, she’s a great person.”
He added, “They have tried to take away her speech and I think you’re entitled to free speech in the country. Now, I’m going to get a very strong briefing on it and I will see, but it seems to me very unfair.”
“This is not a conspiracy to silence her or restrict her First Amendment rights,” said Cummings. “This is an effort to enforce federal law. Nobody in this country is above the law.”

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Trump Meets With Wife of Supreme Court Justice About Transgender Troops – Who He Will Ask SCOTUS to Ban



The spouse of a Supreme Court justice is lobbying the president on an issue he will bring to the court and which her husband will ultimately decide.

On Tuesday the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote along partisan lines, decided to allow the Trump administration to jump ahead and begin implementing its long-desired ban on transgender troops serving in the U.S. Military. The move was not a ruling on a case, but rather an unusual – and to some, eyebrow-raising – decision to intervene while several cases fighting Trump’s transgender ban are working their way through the federal court system.

Also unusual and eyebrow-raising was that President Trump last Thursday met with a far right wing activist and lobbyist for an hour in the White House, and discussed, among other topics, her opposition to transgender troops.

What makes the hour-long conversation so unusual and eyebrow-raising is that the activist and lobbyist is Ginni Thomas, who happens to be married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Here’s how The New York Times, which broke the news Saturday, reports the event:

“President Trump met last week with a delegation of hard-right activists led by Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, listening quietly as members of the group denounced transgender people and women serving in the military, according to three people with direct knowledge of the events.”

“During the meeting last Thursday in the Roosevelt Room, which was attended by about a half-dozen White House aides, one woman argued that women should not serve in the military because they had less muscle mass and lung capacity than men did, according to those familiar with the events,” the Times continues.

“At another point, someone said that gay marriage, which the Supreme Court determined in 2015 was the law of the land, was harming the fabric of the United States. And another attendee was dismissive that sexual assault is pervasive in the military.”

Joshua Block, an attorney for the ACLU’s LGBT Project, took to Twitter to note that the “same week this meeting took place,” Justice Thomas “provided the decisive 5th vote to let the ban take effect.”

Block offered this analogy:

There is a tremendous conflict of interest for the President – who will ask the Supreme Court to rule that his transgender troops ban is within his constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief – to meet with the spouse of a Supreme Court justice who will ultimately vote on that issue. And for the Supreme Court justice.

And ultimately, the Supreme Court will rule on one or more cases challenging Trump’s transgender troop ban, just as it did on same-sex marriage. The appearance of impropriety and undue influence demands Justice Thomas recuse himself.


Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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