In extraordinary meeting, Trump gets involved in congressional oversight of Russia probe

President Trump met with top law enforcement and intelligence officials Monday to pressure them to turn over to Congress information about the origins of the FBI investigation into his own campaign.

The hour-long meeting in the Oval Office ended with an agreement to have the Justice Department’s inspector general investigate any “irregularities” in the investigation into the Trump campaign, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will also meet with congressional leaders and administration officials to mediate the dispute over documents, she said.

The White House characterized the meeting as routine, and said it was scheduled last week. But it came a day after Trump demanded that the Justice Department investigate whether the FBI spied on his campaign for president in 2016.

The episode underscores the unique position Trump finds himself in: As president, he has the constitutional power to give orders to officials overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — even though his own campaign is the subject of that investigation.

Trump’s lead lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, said Monday that Trump called the meeting in his official capacity as president.

“He wants to make sure that the relevant members of Congress get a chance to see what they are entitled to see,” he told USA TODAY. But he also said that whether Trump agrees to an interview with investigators could turn on the release of those documents, which would show the original sources of information that led to the probe.

“I think they could help us, if they show there is no original basis for the investigation,” Giuliani said.

He added, “Every time we move in the direction of an interview, something weird happens.”

Law enforcement and intelligence officials have resisted, saying it could compromise their investigation and imperil covert sources.

In the Oval Office Monday, Trump met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Sanders said. The meeting lasted less than an hour.

The meeting was scheduled last week, Sanders said — before Trump made his demand Sunday.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s demand was a reference to a New York Times report that a secret FBI source met with Trump campaign official several times during the 2016 campaign. The informant was working for the FBI as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian interference with the American election.

Following that demand, the Justice Department announced that it was referring the matter to Justice’s inspector general to determine whether there was “any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted it counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”

[USA Today]

Reality

We have never had before an american president who has used the Justice Department as his own private investigators.

Not even Nixon went this far. This is your democracy.

All this over a Fox News conspiracy theory that we know is false.

Trump ‘demands’ probe of alleged spying on his campaign

Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump sharpened Sunday his accusations that his presidential campaign was “infiltrated” or spied on for political purposes, saying he would officially “demand” a Justice Department investigation.

The president has repeatedly cast the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion by his campaign as a politically driven “witch hunt,” while offering no evidence.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes,” he tweeted, “and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Trump’s angry tweet came amid building pressure from the year-old investigation and reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July 2016 sent a Britain-based American professor to speak separately with three Trump campaign advisers.

A New York Times report described the professor as “an informant” but not a spy, saying the federal agency was looking into evidence that Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos had suspicious contacts with Russia.

The Washington Post called him “a longtime US intelligence source,” used by both the FBI and the CIA.

But Trump and his supporters have cast the man as a mole possibly sent by the Obama administration to burrow into his campaign. “If so, this is bigger than Watergate!” Trump tweeted on Thursday.

While Trump allies in Congress have demanded more information about the informant, law enforcement officials have refused, saying the source — not yet officially identified — could be in danger if named.

Democrats say the president’s real objective is to undermine the Mueller inquiry.

Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, a former Justice Department prosecutor and assistant attorney general, told CNN on Friday that it was not clear whether an FBI informant had been embedded in the campaign, while adding that the spy agency “should tell us if there was.”

[Yahoo News]

Update

The worst part is, FBI Deputy Directory Rod Rosenstein agreed to the demand, instead of resigning and keeping any integrity.

So we can see Rosenstein is less Archibald Cox and more Robert Bork.

Trump angers France and Britain with his NRA speech

US President Donald Trump took aim at two of America’s closest allies in a speech at the NRA convention, saying strict gun laws failed to prevent the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and highlighting a purported increase in knife violence in London.

The comments provoked anger in both France and Britain.

France was especially incensed after Trump, while speaking at the gun rights convention in Dallas on Friday, pointed his hand as if it were a gun while describing how each of the victims in Paris was fatally shot.

“They took their time and gunned them down one by one — boom, come over here, boom, come over here, boom,” he said.

The French foreign ministry issued a statement Saturday after Trump’s comments.

“France expresses its firm disapproval of President Trump’s remarks … and calls for the respect of the memory of the victims,” it said.

Francois Hollande, who was the French President during the 2015 attacks, tweeted Saturday:

“Donald Trump’s shameful remarks and obscene histrionics say a lot about what he thinks of France and its values. The friendship between our two peoples will not be tainted by disrespect and excessiveness. All my thoughts go to the victims of November 13.”

Trump: Armed Parisians could have stopped attack

Trump went on to say things might have been different had Parisians in the cafes under attack had been armed.

“If one employee or just one patron had a gun, or if one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled or been shot. And it would have been a whole different story,” Trump said.

The Élysée palace responded to that comment by saying, “The free flow of arms within society does not constitute a shield against terrorist attacks. It can instead facilitate the planning of this type of attack.”

And the French ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, tweeted: “The statistics of the people killed by guns don’t convince France to change its guns laws.”

A group of about 10 men staged a series of coordinated attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, killing at least 130 people and wounding hundreds.

The attackers, armed with assault rifles and explosives, targeted six locations across the city. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

President says Britain has knife problem

Trump also compared an unnamed London hospital to a “war zone” in the NRA speech, saying that despite tough gun laws in the United Kingdom, it has blood all over the floors from victims of knife attacks.

“They don’t have guns. They have knives and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital,” Trump said. “They say it’s as bad as a military war zone hospital … knives, knives, knives. London hasn’t been used to that. They’re getting used to that. It’s pretty tough.”

British officialdom did not push back. London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office declined to comment to CNN following Trump’s remarks.

But former UK Cabinet minister Charlie Falconer tweeted Saturday: “US murder rate over 5 times higher than the UK’s. There isn’t a person in the whole world (with the possible exception of the President of the US, and he’s probably lying) who believes the way to reduce our murder rate is to make it easier to get guns.”

It’s unclear what hospital Trump was referring to. But the BBC reported that a trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital, Dr. Martin Griffiths, recently told the network that his fellow doctors have compared it to an Afghan war zone.

Amid the furor over Trump’s comments, Griffiths tweeted Saturday: “Happy to invite Mr Trump to my (prestigious) hospital to meet with our mayor and police commissioner to discuss our successes in violence reduction in London.”

Professor Karim Brohi, a trauma surgeon at The Royal London Hospital and director of London’s Major Trauma System, also hit back at Trump’s speech, saying in a statement that, “The Royal London Hospital has cut the number of our young patients returning after further knife attacks from 45% to 1%.”

Brohi said that while there is more that can be done to combat knife attacks, gunshot wounds are “at least twice as lethal as knife injuries and more difficult to repair.”

Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke by phone Saturday. According to the White House, they discussed China trade, North Korea, Iran and Trump’s upcoming visit to Britain. It’s unknown whether they talked about Trump’s remarks to the NRA.

[CNN]

Trump Denounces ‘Witch Hunt’ Again as He Touts Judge Who Criticized Mueller’s Office

President Donald Trump used his appearance at the National Rifle Association annual convention Friday to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the investigation into possible Russia collusion during the 2016 campaign.

The president spoke at the gun lobby group’s annual gathering in Dallas, but while the event was about the 2nd Amendment and guns, the president apparently saw it as the perfect platform to go after America’s justice system. Trump specifically seized upon the news from earlier Friday, when a federal judge, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, voiced concern over the idea of a special counsel in general.

“It’s unlikely you’re going to persuade me the special counsel has unfettered power to do whatever he wants,” Judge T.S. Ellis told federal prosecutors during one of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort‘s first court appearances. The comment prompted speculation that, perhaps, Manafort’s charges, which include money laundering and tax evasion, could be dropped. Most experts, however, still say that’s unlikely.

Regardless, Trump took the judge’s remarks as a win. The president partially quoted an article from CNN, an outlet he says he regards as “fake news,” to the crowd of thousands gathered for the NRA annual convention in Dallas.

“Judge T.S. Ellis, who is really something special I hear from many standpoints – he is a respected person – suggested the charges before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia were just part of the Mueller team’s designs to pressure Mr. Manafort into giving up information on President Donald Trump or Russia’s involvement in the campaign,” Trump said, appearing to read from a separate news report.

“I’ve been saying that for a long time. It’s a witch hunt,” Trump said before tossing a piece of paper behind him.

“Then,” Trump continued reading, “none of that information has to do with information related to the Russian government or coordination with the campaign of Donald Trump.” The president kept quoting from an article, saying, “Then, ‘how does this have anything to do with the campaign?’ the judge asks.”

While I am no lawyer or legal expert, I have listened to and read the works of other highly regarded lawyers who say that even though the president and his team claim the money-related charges against Manafort are outside the scope of Mueller’s jurisdiction, the fact of the matter is that the crimes were still uncovered. Thus, they are prosecutable. To say that just because a possible crime was discovered as the result of an investigation into unrelated matters is to abandon the U.S. justice system and the rule of law, which Trump claims he wants to protect.

So long as the appropriate permissions were gathered to obtain evidence in a case (and I have no information to suggest those permissions were not granted in Manafort’s case), a legal charge such as the one against Manafort is valid. It may not be politically convenient. In fact, the Russia investigation is nothing short of a nightmare for the Trump administration. That said, the president cannot have it both ways. Either he supports the rule of law, whether or not it directly affects him and his presidency, or he doesn’t.

[Mediaite]

Trump Threatens to ‘Get Involved’ With the DOJ: ‘At Some Point I Will Have No Choice’

President Trump has once again weighed in on Republican concerns that the DOJ is not providing documents in a timely manner.

It’s gotten to the point where some Republicans have begun drafting articles of impeachment against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as a “last resort.” Rosenstein fired back yesterday by saying the DOJ will not be “extorted.”

And now the President himself is getting into this ongoing battle:

[Mediaite]

The Justice Department Deleted Language About Press Freedom And Racial Gerrymandering From Its Internal Manual

Since the fall, the US Department of Justice has been overhauling its manual for federal prosecutors.

In: Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tough-on-crime policies. Out: A section titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial.” References to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering are gone. Language about limits on prosecutorial power has been edited down.

The changes include new sections that underscore Sessions’ focus on religious liberty and the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on government leaks — there is new language admonishing prosecutors not to share classified information and directing them to report contacts with the media.

Not all changes are substantive: Long paragraphs have been split up, outdated contacts lists have been updated, and citations to repealed laws have been removed.

The “US Attorneys’ Manual” is something of a misnomer. Federal prosecutors in US attorney offices across the country use it, but so do other Justice Department — often referred to as “Main Justice” — lawyers. The manual features high-level statements about department policies and priorities as well as practical guidance on every facet of legal work that comes through the department.

The last major update to the manual was in 1997. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — the DOJ’s number two official and a veteran federal prosecutor — ordered the top-to-bottom review, according to department spokesperson Ian Prior. In a March speech announcing changes to the department’s policy for enforcing certain anti-corruption laws, Rosenstein lamented the difficulty prosecutors have keeping track of policy and procedure changes when they aren’t reflected in the manual.

Some of the recent changes were publicly announced. In January, for instance, the department said it was adding a section called “Respect for Religious Liberty,” directing prosecutors to alert senior officials about lawsuits filed against the US government “raising any significant question concerning religious liberty” and articulating “Principles of Religious Liberty” that Sessions laid out in an earlier memo.

Most changes haven’t been publicly announced, though, which is common practice, according to former DOJ officials who spoke with BuzzFeed News. US attorney offices have been notified of the significant changes so far, and notice will go out when the review is done, Prior said. The public version of the manual online notes when individual sections were last updated.

The Justice Department declined to comment on specific changes. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Prior said the manual is meant to be a “quick and ready reference” for lawyers, not “an exhaustive list of constitutional rights, statutory law, regulatory law, or generalized principles of our legal system.”

“While sections of the USAM have changed over time, the last comprehensive review and update of the USAM occurred twenty years ago. During that time, policies have changed or become outdated, and leadership memos were issued without being incorporated into the USAM. As part of the effort to consolidate policies into a useful one-stop-shop of litigation-related documents for the Department, the Deputy Attorney General ordered a thorough, department wide review of the USAM,” Prior said. “The purpose of that review is to identify redundant sections and language, areas that required greater clarity, and any content that needed to be added to help Department attorneys perform core prosecutorial functions.”

The review is taking place while the Justice Department is still missing several Senate-confirmed officials, including heads of the Criminal Division, the Civil Division, the Civil Rights Division, and the Environment and Natural Resources Division. Nominees for those posts are waiting for a final vote in the Senate. Trump has yet to announce a nominee for associate attorney general, the department’s third-ranking official, following the February departure of Rachel Brand. Prior said that the review process has included career attorneys from across the department.

Sections of the manual that dealt with a variety of personnel and administrative issues, many of which are explained in other internal department documents or are included in federal statutes and regulations, were removed. Those sections included language about what happens when a US attorney spot is vacant, policies for securing and paying witnesses, and compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

BuzzFeed News compared the latest version of the manual with earlier versions saved via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

[Buzzfeed]

Trump Threatens Comey With Jail Time in Unhinged Tirade

President Donald Trump spent Sunday morning railing against former FBI Director James Comey, whose highly anticipated book will be released Tuesday. In a series of unhinged tweets, the president described Comey, whom he fired last year, as “not smart”; the “worst” FBI chief in history; a “self serving” liar; and a “slimeball.” He even threatened Comey with jail time.

Trump kicked off his tirade by referencing reports that Comey discloses in his book that Hillary Clinton’s lead in 2016 election polling may have influenced Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email server.

Whatever one thinks of this troubling admission from Comey, it’s worth noting that what Comey actually wrote, according to early reports, is that he may have treated Clinton more harshly because of his assumption that she’d win.

Comey made a similar statement to ABC News in an interview clip released Saturday, saying that his decision to disclose the reopening of the email investigation “must have been” influenced by his belief that Clinton would win.

Trump went on to call “Slippery James Comey” the “WORST FBI Director in history, by far” and insist that the notes Comey took documenting his conversations with Trump are “FAKE.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump Pardons Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s Former Chief of Staff

President Donald Trump pardoned I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Friday, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted in 2005 of perjury and obstruction of justice after a leak that disclosed a CIA agent’s name.

“I don’t know Mr. Libby, but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly,” Trump said in a statement from the White House. “Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

ABC News and The Washington Post both reported this week that Trump had been considering the pardon for a few months, but there was no clear timeline for when it might happen.

The chief prosecutor in Libby’s case, Patrick Fitzgerald, also happens to be friends with former FBI Director James Comey.

Libby was charged in 2005 with lying to the FBI, perjury and obstruction of justice following an investigation into who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative at the time, to various journalists. Libby, according to prosecutors, lied about where he learned of her identity and what he discussed with reporters.

He pleaded not guilty but resigned from his position and was disbarred until 2016. He was also sentenced in 2007 to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000 for his role in the leak case.

President George W. Bush refused to grant a pardon to Libby, despite Cheney pushing for it, although the former president did commute Libby’s 30-month prison sentence.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage eventually admitted in 2006 that he was the one who inadvertently revealed Plame’s identity.

Trump’s most controversial pardon to date was that of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio last August. Arpaio had been convicted of criminal contempt for violating a federal judge’s order to stop detaining individuals the sheriff believed were in the country illegally. Arpaio had a long history of discrimination and unlawful policing toward Hispanics. He’s now running for Senate.

[Huffington Post]

Trump lashes out, cites ‘massive conflicts of interest’ in Russia probe

President Trump unloaded on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in a Monday morning tweet, calling the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election a “witch hunt” filled with “massive conflicts of interest.”

That tweet follows a weekend in which the president vented his frustration with Mueller, singling out the special counsel for criticism by name for the first time and raising questions about whether he is preparing to fire him.

There have been conflicting signals coming from Trump’s legal team about whether a Mueller firing is imminent, although the White House has consistently said it is working with the special counsel in hopes of bringing the investigation to a swift conclusion.

On Sunday, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, to end the investigation.

“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by [Andrew] McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd said.

But Ty Cobb, Trump’s White House attorney in charge of dealing with Mueller, sought to squash the budding questions over whether a firing was imminent.

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” Cobb said in a statement.

Trump over the weekend also lashed out at the FBI and the Department of Justice in a searing string of tweets that escalated his feud with law enforcement officials.

The president’s Monday tweet about a conflicts of interest could be an effort to lay the groundwork for a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the separate investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified material and into Trump campaign officials.

The Justice Department must have evidence of a crime and a conflict of interest to launch a second special counsel.

Late Friday night, Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe just days before he was set to retire with full pension benefits.

The FBI’s personnel office had recommended McCabe be fired, but some Republicans have said the firing appeared malicious in light of McCabe’s intent to retire.

The FBI inspector general will release a report soon that is expected to be critical of McCabe’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s personal email server.

[The Hill]

Reality

NBC News wrote that one tweet contained at least five inaccuracies or distortions.

  1. The probe started after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had testified before Congress two months earlier that his agency had been investigating allegations that Trump’s 2016 campaign might have contacts with Russian entities. Mueller was appointed as special counsel by the No. 2 official in Trump’s Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein.
  2. While Trump said there “was no crime,” the Mueller probe has charged 19 different individuals with crimes, including Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) and 13 Russian nationals. In addition, five individuals have pleaded guilty, including Trump’s former national security adviser (Michael Flynn), a former top Trump campaign and transition official (Rick Gates) and a former Trump foreign-policy adviser (George Papadopoulos).
  3. Although Trump says there was “no collusion,” that’s not exactly what Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee concluded. “What we said … is that we found no evidence of it,” Rep. Michael Conaway said on “Meet the Press” yesterday, explaining that saying “no evidence of collusion” is different than saying there was “no collusion.” Conaway also admitted that Democrats on the committee have a different opinion on collusion. “The collusion issue, we found no evidence of it. The Democrats think they have. They’ve not shared that with us,” he said.
  4. While Trump said that the Russian investigation was based on “a fake dossier,” both Democrats and Republicans have admitted the original inquiry began with George Papadopoulos’ conversation with an Australian diplomat that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. “The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok,” February’s memo by Rep. Devin Nunes’ staff said.
  5. And although Trump says the FISA wiretap of former Trump adviser Carter Page was surveillance of his campaign, the FISA court order to begin surveillance on Page took place after Page LEFT THE CAMPAIGN, the Washington Post writes.

And the Washington Post detailed every member of the Mueller team’s publicly available voter registration information showing that 13 of the 17 members of Mueller’s team have previously registered as Democrats, while four had no affiliation or their affiliation could not be found.

Nine of the 17 made political donations to Democrats, their contributions totaling more than $57,000. The majority came from one person, who also contributed to Republicans. Six donated to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 race.

Kellyanne Conway found to have violated Hatch Act

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) informed the Trump administration Tuesday.

Appearing in her official capacity, Conway endorsed and advocated against political candidates, the watchdog said, referring its findings to President Trump “for appropriate disciplinary action.”

The violations occurred during two television appearances in 2017, one on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” and one on CNN’s “New Day.”

“While the Hatch Act allows federal employees to express their views about candidates and political issues as private citizens, it restricts employees from using their official government positions for partisan political purposes, including by trying to influence partisan elections,” OSC says in its report.

“Ms. Conway’s statements during the ‘Fox & Friends’ and ‘New Day’ interviews impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.”

The report goes on to state that Conway received “significant training” on the Hatch Act and possible violations. OSC says it gave Conway, a former GOP pollster who served as Trump’s campaign manager, the opportunity to respond as part of its report, but she did not.

The White House rejected the report’s findings, saying “Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate” in a statement provided to reporters.

“In fact, Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act — as she twice declined to respond to the host’s specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gildley said.

Ahead of December’s special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate, Conway made remarks critical of then-candidate Doug Jones in his race against former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

During her initial Fox appearance, Conway blasted Jones as “weak on crime” and “weak on borders,” before declining to specifically endorse Moore when asked.

“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” Conway said in November.

“So, vote Roy Moore?” host Brian Kilmeade interjected.

“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Conway responded.

In her CNN appearance in December, Conway went further, saying that Trump “doesn’t want a liberal Democrat representing Alabama” in the Senate.

“The only endorsement that matters in this race is President Trump’s,” Conway said the week before the vote. “And he came out questioning the ideology and the vote of Doug Jones. He’ll be a reliable vote for tax hikes. He’ll be a reliable vote against border security. He’ll be a reliable vote against national security and keeping [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS in retreat. He’ll be the reliable vote against the Second Amendment and against life.”

At the time, former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub called the comments a “slam dunk” violation of the Hatch Act.

“The willfulness of Conway’s violation and her openly expressed disdain for efforts to hold her accountable for complying with ethics requirements make clear that anything less than removal from the federal service or a lengthy unpaid suspension will not deter future misconduct on her part,” Shaub said.

Shaub filed two complaints with OSC over the interviews.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah defended Conway last year after initial criticism.

“Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way,” Shah said in a statement.

“She was speaking about issues and her support for the president’s agenda. This election is for the people of Alabama to decide,” he added.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) demanded the president issue “swift and serious” punishment for the violations.

“The President must take swift and serious disciplinary action against Ms. Conway. Anything else sets a terrible example,” Cummings said in a statement.

Hatch Act violations committed by White House staff are typically handled directly by the president. Consequences for violating the law range from an official reprimand to a civil penalty of up to $1,000. Other penalties include suspension, termination or even debarment from federal employment for up to five years.

[The Hill]

Update

The White House said on Tuesday that counselor Kellyanne Conway did not violate the Hatch Act after the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) told the Trump administration she was found in violation.

“Kellyanne Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate. She simply expressed the president’s obvious position that he have people in the House and Senate, who support his agenda,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

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