Trump Refuses to Fire Kellyanne Conway Over Hatch Act: 'It's Freedom of Speech'
President Trump declares: 'You're entitled to free speech in this country'
President Donald Trump has declared that he won't fire Kellyanne Conway for allegedly violating the Hatch Act, saying she has a right to free speech.
Speaking during a phone interview on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” President Trump said: "No, I’m not going to fire her."
"It looks to me like they're trying to take away her right of free speech," Trump explained.
"You're entitled to free speech in this country," the president added.
“I think she’s a terrific person, she’s a tremendous spokesperson, she’s loyal, she’s a great person …
"Based on what I saw yesterday, how could you do that?”
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According to the Daily Caller, independent federal watchdog the Office of the Special Counsel - a different SC to Robert Mueller's - released a report Thursday recommending Conway be fired for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act, a statute that prevents federal employees from engaging in certain political activity.
“As a highly visible member of the Administration, Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions,” the OSC said.
Trump said the recommendation is an attack on Conway’s “right of free speech,” adding that it is “not fair.”
“You ask them a question, you ask a person a question, and every time you are supposed to say I can’t answer, I can’t answer?" Trump asked.
"I mean, she’s gotta have the right of responding to questions. It really sounds to me like a free speech thing,” Trump asserted.
“A person wouldn’t be able to express themselves and I just don’t see it.”
The White House previously defended Conway in a statement released shortly after the OSC recommendation, wherein they also pointed to Conway’s right to free speech.
In 2016, Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate Julian Castro violated the Hatch Act but said he would not give White House counselor Kellyanne Conway a “pass” for the same violation during his Thursday town hall.
According to the Daily Caller, then-HUD Secretary Castro was found to have violated the Hatch Act in 2016 when he discussed the upcoming election in an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric but was given a "free pass" from President Obama.
“Despite his efforts to clarify that he was speaking only for himself and not as a HUD official when answering political questions, Secretary Castro’s statements impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official government agency business” the OSC’s report read.
“When you were HUD secretary, [OSC] accused you of the same thing,” Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Castro.
"President Obama gave you a pass. Should President Trump give Kellyanne Conway a pass?"
"The difference between me and Kellyanne Conway, and the [OSC] pointed this out, she violated the Hatch Act, and instead of saying, ‘Look, I’m going to take these efforts to make sure that doesn’t happen again,’ she said, ‘To hell with it. I’m going to keep doing it. I’m going to keep doing it.’
"They said she repeatedly had done that. That’s the difference.
"No. She did the wrong thing.
"And I support the [OSC’s] determination that because she repeatedly violated it even though she was clearly told it was a violation, that she should be removed from office."