Ah, the dangers of pre-taping topical television. Stephen Colbert experienced that tonight, as his obviously pre-recorded monologue focused on Kellyanne Conway and her alleged violations of the Hatch Act was a beat behind the actual news.
Colbert started off strong. When he said Conway’s name, resounding boos filled the studio. “Her family is here tonight,” Colbert quipped. He then asked, “What is her office? I presumed she’s the secretary of lying to reporters in a driveway.”
He then dove deep into an imaginary confrontation in the courtroom between Conway and the system. But that confrontation will remain imaginary. President Donald Trump was firm on her status, and is under no obligation to take action.
“No, I’m not going to fire her,” Trump told hosts Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt. “I think she’s a terrific person, a tremendous spokesperson. She’s been loyal…I think you’re entitled to free speech in this country.”
Trump challenged the basic premise of the 1939 Hatch Act – which prohibits most employees in the executive branch of the federal government from engaging in political activity. The US Office of Special Counsel – an independent government agency unrelated to the Mueller investigation – recommended that Conway be removed from her job for repeated violations of the Hatch Act.
Trump said he was briefed on the Conway situation yesterday and came to the conclusion that “they’re trying to take away her right to free speech.” He also said Conway was merely answering questions from the press when she criticized Democrats. “Every time you’re supposed to say, ‘I can’t answer, I can’t answer’?”
The president also seemed to suggest that he would get another briefing, possibly today, on the matter. “I’m going to get a very strong briefing on it, so we’ll see, but it seems to me to be very unfair. It’s called freedom of speech.”