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Federal watchdog agency recommends firing Kellyanne Conway for repeatedly violating U.S. law

Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, repeatedly violated U.S. law by making political comments while serving in the White House and should be removed from the federal workforce, the Office of Special Counsel said on Thursday.

Trump aide 'has shown disregard for the law,' Office of Special Counsel says

The Office of Special Counsel recommended that Kellyanne Conway be 'removed from federal service' for repeatedly violating U.S. law. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, repeatedly violated U.S. law by making political comments while serving in the White House and should be removed from the federal workforce, the Office of Special Counsel said on Thursday.

"Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service," for comments made in television interviews and social media posts, the office said in a statement.

The federal watchdog agency, which is unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller's office, said Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.

Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence are exempt from the Hatch Act, but there are no exceptions for White House employees.

Earlier this month, the OSC tweeted out a short primer on the Hatch act. 

The agency does not have authority to fire Conway, 52, who was appointed counsellor by Trump, so it would be up to the president to follow its recommendation and dismiss one of his most unwavering defenders.

The agency's letter 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. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law."

"I have no reaction," Conway told reporters who encountered her in the White House media office.

White House spokesperson Steven Groves called the watchdog agency's decision "unprecedented" and "deeply flawed," and said it violated Conway's constitutional rights to free speech and due process.

"Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations — and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act," Groves said in a statement.

Conway has been a fiery defender of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has praised her for her 'success' in her career. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

The OSC noted that, during a May 29 media interview, Conway minimized the significance of the law as applied to her.

When asked about the Hatch Act, the OSC said she replied: "'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.'"

The office had found in March 2018 that Conway violated the Hatch Act during two television interviews in which she advocated for and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.

Career government officials found to have violated the Hatch Act can be fired, suspended or demoted, and fined up to $1,000 US.

Conway, a former pollster, served as Trump's campaign manager in 2016, becoming the first woman to head a winning presidential campaign. She is one of his most loyal aides and has been a fiery defender of the president, doing so during frequent appearances on cable TV news programs and in talks with reporters at the White House. Trump has praised her for her "success" in her career.

With files from Reuters and CBC News

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