Kellyanne Conway said Thursday she had spoken to President Donald Trump about a watchdog report that found her past remarks on the Alabama special election to be in violation of federal law, but the counselor to the president declined to say whether she would face disciplinary action over the ethics breach.
“The president and I have spoken about this,” Conway said when asked about the report on Fox News. “I have not made a comment on this at all and I won't today.”
Conway added that she “won’t reveal” the details of “private conversations” between herself and the president. Pressed on whether that meant the White House would not impose disciplinary actions against her, Conway again dodged.
“I didn't say that,” she said. “I also recognize every day maybe I'm still there and will continue to be, I'm not there to read about myself. I'm not there to talk about me and I'm there to the service of the country that I love.”
The interview was Conway’s first since the U.S. Office of Special Counsel released a report Tuesday that found the White House aide had violated the Hatch Act by voicing her preference for a candidate in last year’s hotly-contested Alabama special election Senate race. The watchdog said in a release it would submit the report to Trump “for disciplinary action.”
The White House disputed the findings, arguing Conway was merely reiterating the president’s support for having more lawmakers that back his policy agenda.
“Kellyanne Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said on Tuesday. “She simply expressed the president’s obvious position that he has people in the House and Senate who support his agenda. 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 Alabamians to vote for the Republican.”
The ethics agency in its report found that Conway “gave an implied endorsement” of Alabama Republican nominee Roy Moore during a Fox News interview by advocating against his opponent, Doug Jones, who later defeated Moore for the Senate seat. During the November interview Conway warned viewers to not be “fooled” by Jones.
In a separate CNN interview in December, the agency said, Conway again violated federal election laws by criticizing Jones and urging viewers to back Moore, defending him against allegations of sexual abuse.
Conway treated the controversy as a settled matter on Thursday.
“The White House has spoken,” Conway said on Fox News.
The counselor to the president added that any decisions on potential punishment for the breach would be left to the commander in chief.
“This president controls the timing and tone and content of his decision,” she said.
The Office of Special Counsel noted that both ethics breaches occurred occurred after Conway “received significant training on Hatch Act violations.