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Trouble in Trump’s spin zone: Sarah Huckabee Sanders resigns, federal watchdog agency requests Kellyanne Conway’s axing

2019-06-16

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway both had a rough day Thursday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Providing political spin for President Trump is taking a toll on two of his fervently loyal spokeswomen.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders revealed Thursday she’s had enough of the White House and plans to resign by the end of the month — an announcement that came hours after a federal watchdog agency told Trump to fire his chief counselor, Kellyanne Conway, over her “numerous” violations of a longstanding ethics law.

Sanders — who has not held a formal press briefing in a record 94 days amid mounting calls for Trump’s impeachment — grew emotional as she announced during an unrelated event at the White House that she’s pulling the plug on her tenure as press secretary to return to private life in Arkansas.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime. I couldn’t have been prouder,” Sanders said, adding she plans to continue to be one of the most “outspoken and loyal supporters of the president."

Sanders — who’s been working for Trump since the 2016 campaign — leaves the White House with a reputation marred by concerns over her credibility.

Among other falsehoods, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed Sanders admitted in interviews with his investigators that she lied when she told reporters in the spring of 2017 that “countless” FBI agents had reached out to express support for Trump’s decision to fire ex-FBI Director James Comey.

Trump, speaking at the same event as Sanders on Thursday, praised his outgoing mouthpiece as a “very, very fine woman."

“She’s a warrior...We’re all warriors. We have no choice," Trump said.

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Conway, meanwhile, is in trouble for carrying out televised verbal warfare against Democratic presidential candidates.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel — an independent agency which is separate from Mueller’s Justice Department operation — fired off a letter to Trump Thursday morning recommending that he boot her from the White House for Hatch Act violations.

The Hatch Act, enacted in 1939, bars nearly all federal employees from using their official positions to engage in overtly partisan speech. Presidents and vice presidents are exempt from the restrictions — but Conway isn’t.

“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," wrote special counsel Henry Kerner, a Trump appointee. "Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law.”

In an investigative report appended to the letter, Kerner said Conway has since Feb. 1 belittled or attacked at least four Democratic 2020 candidates repeatedly in social media posts and interviews — even though OSC officials warned her over a year ago to cut out the partisan speech.

“Therefore,” Kerner told Trump, “OSC respectfully requests that Ms. Conway be held to the same standards as all other federal employees, and, as such, you find removal from federal service to be the appropriate disciplinary action.”