U.S. House panel votes to subpoena Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway on Hatch Act
By Jan Wolfe WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee voted 25-16 on Wednesday to subpoena testimony from White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway after she failed to appear at a hearing about her alleged violations of the Hatch Act, a law that limits federal employees' political activity. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a U.S
By Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee voted 25-16 on Wednesday to subpoena testimony from White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway after she failed to appear at a hearing about her alleged violations of the Hatch Act, a law that limits federal employees' political activity.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a U.S. government watchdog agency, earlier this month recommended Conway be fired for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.
Consistent with a pattern of stonewalling numerous congressional investigations of President Donald Trump, his administration and business interests, the White House has asserted that Conway did not need to testify to the committee.
Henry Kerner, who runs the Office of Special Counsel, said at the committee hearing that Conway left him "no choice" but to recommend her termination because she has committed "at least 10 separate Hatch Act violations, expressed no remorse and continues to express disdain" for the law.
Kerner is a Trump appointee who previously worked for Republican lawmakers in Congress. His office is an independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act. It is not connected to the office of former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Representative Jim Jordan, the committee's top Republican, said Democrats were seeking to limit Conway's free speech rights because they disagreed with her views and because she has been an effective advocate for the president's agenda.
Some Democratic lawmakers said the hearing was an example of Republicans letting their loyalty to Trump interfere with upholding the rule of law.
"Our Republican colleagues are so busy trying to defend the Trump administration, even when there are 25 violations of federal law, that we are basically giving away our power," said Elijah Cummings, the committee's chairman, after the hearing.
Kerner testified that his concerns about Conway could also be addressed by her formally becoming an adviser to Trump's reelection campaign, rather than a White House employee.
Kerner's report on June 13 criticized Conway for a "pattern of partisan attacks" on Democrats running for president, including a media interview where she insinuated that Senator Cory Booker was "sexist."
An earlier OSC report from March 2018 cited Conway for favoring a Republican candidate over a Democrat in an interview discussing a special Senate election in Alabama in 2017. The White House said she was only expressing Trump's preference.
In a June 11 letter, the top White House lawyer said the OSC has adopted an "overbroad and unsupported interpretation of the Hatch Act," that chills the free speech rights of U.S. government employees.
The White House's letter also accused Kerner's team of bias against Conway, saying they recommended her termination because they felt disrespected by public comments she made about the OSC.
The OSC can make such recommendations, but does not have the authority to enforce them.
Cummings said the committee could sue to enforce its subpoena and force Conway to testify.
"We will do whatever we have to do, using every tool that we have available, as we would with any subpoena now, to get her in," Cummings said.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Bill Berkrot and G Crosse)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.