A U.S. government watchdog agency on Thursday recommended that Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump's closest White House aides, be fired for repeatedly engaging in partisan political attacks while working as a federal employee.
The Office of Special Counsel, unrelated to special counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, said that Conway has become a "repeat offender" of the Hatch Act, which strictly limits federal workers from engaging in political activity while on the job.
"Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, OSC recommends that she be removed from federal service," the office said in a statement.
The agency's report said she violated the law by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media."
The agency said, "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."
The White House contested the OSC's conclusions, with counsel Pat Cipollone saying in an 11-page letter the agency made "unfair and unsupported claims against a close adviser to the president" and a "rush to judgment" in accusing her. It asked the agency to withdraw and retract its report.
The agency that recommended the 52-year-old Conway's firing has no power to oust her.
Whether to remove her is up to Trump. The president, however, has often praised Conway, while at the same attacking her husband, George Conway, a lawyer who has represented Trump in the past, but now often says the president is mentally unstable and should be impeached.
During a May 29 interview, Conway dismissed the relevance of the law as it related to her.
"If you're trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it's not going to work," she said. "Let me know when the jail sentence starts."
Conway has often given television interviews from the White House grounds supporting Trump and deriding his Democratic opposition.
Government workers found to have violated the Hatch Act can be fired, suspended or demoted, and fined up to $1,000.