WASHINGTON – White House counselor Kellyanne Conway will ignore a congressional subpoena demanding she answer questions about whether she broke the law by engaging politics in her official capacity, administration officials said Monday.
The decision is certain to increase tension between Democratic lawmakers in the House and President Donald Trump's administration, which has dismissed congressional investigations as politically motivated and has largely refused to comply with lawmakers' demands for information.
Trump dismissed the recommendation of a government watchdog last month that Conway be removed from her job for "egregious, notorious and ongoing" violations of the Hatch Act. The provision is intended to prevent public officials from using their taxpayer-funded office to conduct partisan politics.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform approved the subpoena late last month after Conway declined an earlier invitation to testify.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter Monday that Trump had directed Conway not to testify. Cipollone said Congress does not have the power to summon top presidential advisers.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham described the subpoena as a "purely political campaign to harass the president and his close advisers." Grisham accused Democrats of "trying to silence Kellyanne Conway with ill-founded, phony allegations about the Hatch Act."
Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings said Monday that the panel will conduct a meeting July 25 to take a vote on whether to hold Conway in contempt.
“Our goal is to hear from Ms. Conway,” the Maryland Democrat said. “If she does not change course, we have no choice but to hold her accountable.”
Special Counsel Henry Kerner, whose office is separate from that of former special counsel Robert Mueller, said in a letter last month that his office had investigated aides to presidents of both parties but never before found repeated violations.
Conway disparaged Democratic presidential candidates and spoke for and against Alabama candidates for U.S. Senate in 2017, according to the Office of Special Counsel.
The same committee voted last month to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying subpoenas. The White House has also instructed other current and former administration officials that they should not appear before Congress. "We're fighting all the subpoenas," Trump said in April.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump aide Kellyanne Conway will ignore House subpoena