WASHINGTON — White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday that she’d “love to go testify” to Congress but that her decision to ignore a House committee’s subpoena as it investigates whether she broke the law amounted to her “taking one for the team.”
In a Fox News interview, Conway said she is shielded from testifying in her role as a presidential adviser, echoing what a White House attorney told Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, in a letter Monday explaining why Conway would not appear before the panel. The committee demanded her testimony on a government watchdog’s findings that she violated the Hatch Act — the law that forbids federal government employees from engaging in certain campaign activities.
“I’d be happy to testify. I have nothing to hide. I’ve done nothing wrong,” Conway said. “I would love to go testify, but I’m taking one for the team here because there’s a long-standing tradition to claim immunity and not have people like me testify.”
The White House has determined that all presidential advisers, current and former, are immune from such congressional inquiries. In his letter to Cummings, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said President Donald Trump directed Conway not to testify “in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the President.”
Cummings has said that if Conway doesn’t honor his committee’s subpoena before July 25, he would vote to hold her in contempt of Congress. On Wednesday, the House will vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for their refusal to honor subpoenas.
“We’re not requiring her to testify about advice she gave the president or about the White House policy decisions … We are requiring her to testify before Congress about her multiple violations of federal law,” Cummings said.
The Office of Special Counsel, a federal watchdog agency unrelated to the office of former special counsel Robert Mueller, determined that Conway broke the law numerous times by going on television in her official role and “disparaging Democratic candidates.” It recommended that she be removed from her White House job.
Conway defended herself Tuesday, saying that she was only stating facts about the candidates and that the Democrats were out to get her and other people close to Trump.
“This is the latest example of harassment and embarrassment, trying to harass and embarrass people closest to the president,” she said. “This is about me going on TV and stating facts. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are old. They are white. They are male. They are career politicians. Joe Biden got elected to the Senate 49 years ago … They’re trying to silence me and take away my First Amendment rights.”
Washington Post writer Rachael Bade contributed to this report.