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A complete disrespect for the rule of law

Kellyanne Conway's breach adds to an ugly pattern for the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to

President Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, discuss the opioid epidemic at the White House June 12, 2019. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Saul Loeb

There is no doubt White House counselor Kellyanne Conway should be fired because of her repeated violations of a federal law that bars all federal workers from engaging in political activity during work time.

There also is no doubt that will never happen.

That’s because in Donald Trump’s White House, the law is not the law, anyone can be above it, adhering to it is optional, and there is no punishment for breaking it.

Conway clearly violated the Hatch Act, an 80-year-old statute passed to stop Democrats from using federal workers in political campaigns. Only the president and the vice president are exempt. Conway ignored the line between a public job and political activity

egregiously and repeatedly, despite several warnings from a federal watchdog office. Its head, Henry Kerner, was appointed by Trump. Kerner documented numerous occasions when Conway used her post to bolster Trump’s reelection campaign and denigrate Democratic presidential contenders.

After one warning, Conway said, “Blah, blah, blah . . . Let me know when the jail sentence starts.” The White House incorrectly cast Kerner’s request to dismiss Conway as an attempt to stifle her free speech. Both responses demonstrate a contempt for the law. Ten other administration officials have been warned about Hatch Act violations.

The Conway controversy came the day after Trump demonstrated his own disdain for the law by telling a TV interviewer it’s OK to accept dirt on a political foe from a foreign government. In the context of Mueller’s findings about Russia helping Trump’s 2016 campaign, the remark was stunning if unsurprising. Worse, after his own FBI director, Christopher Wray, said the FBI should be contacted about such an offer, Trump said Wray was wrong.

Going to Washington to shake things up is one thing. Sneering at the law once there — by accepting emoluments from foreign governments, using the office for personal gain, defying lawful subpoenas, tolerating Hatch Act violations, and giving tacit permission to any campaign to accept help from a foreign adversary — is conduct unbefitting the president of the United States.


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