With Rudy Giuliani stealing the limelight this week with his freakish new Trump sideshow, it’s hard to watch presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway as she listlessly tries to spin the latest lies coming out of the White House.
On Sunday, as Donald Trump headed out for his 111th day at a Trump golf club as president, Conway appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to do what she always does (aside from leaking, allegedly): deflect and spin.
Host Jake Tapper tried to confront Conway on Trump’s lies about hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and his claim on Twitter that former President Barack Obama failed to secure the release of three U.S. hostages in North Korea, among other things. But Tapper got nowhere.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering Conway started the interview by claiming she now has only “limited visibility” in such matters.
“I would also tell you that I’m happy to answer these questions, but I have limited visibility into what mayor Giuliani is talking about, because, politely, he is the president’s counsel—I’m the president’s counselor.”
With that bit out of the way, Conway offered a laughable explanation as to why her boss lied about what and when he knew about the payments to Daniels by Trump’s personal fixer, Michael Cohen.
“I will tell you, though, in speaking with the president just yesterday, when the president said ‘No’ on Air Force One, he was talking about he didn’t know when the payment occurred. It’s a very fast–moving exchange between him and Cathy Lucey of the AP, I believe, and so he’s saying he didn’t know about it when the payment occurred. He found out about it after the fact.”
Tapper’s producers had the video of that exchange already cued up:
AP reporter: “Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?”
Trump: “No. No. What else?”
Reporter: “Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?”
Trump: “No. I don’t.”
“You have to look at the president’s three tweets,” Conway said, referring to a series of tweets on May 3 that many believe Trump didn’t even write. “Again, I’m going to relay to you what the president has told me, which is the best I can do. He didn’t know it at the time that the payment occurred.”
After calling the Daniels allegations “false claims,” Conway tried to link the scandal with sexual assault and harassment allegations made against Trump by nearly 20 women. She didn’t say why Trump would pay someone six figures to make a phony story disappear.
“All of it was out there,” she said. (Hint: No it wasn’t.) “There were all these, what the president referred to as, false accusers…They were lining up and he would address them at his rallies.”
Tapper pushed back: “Those are different. First of all, you have more than a dozen women accusing the president of sexual assault or sexual harassment. That’s different from a porn star who claims that she had a consensual affair with the president just months after the president’s son was born.”
“Well, he’s denied all of that,” Conway said.
Tapper noted the 10–year gap between the alleged Daniels affair and the 2016 payout, just ahead of the election.
Conway blamed Cohen for that, saying he “had discretion over funds.”
Asked when Trump first learned that Cohen had made the payment, she said, “That I don’t know. But I know that the president has said he didn’t know it when it occurred, and that is the ‘No’ on Air Force One. Now, respectfully, I know that CNN has invested a lot in this story and in Ms. Daniels’ attorney, Mr. Avenatti. He has appeared on your network over 65 times in less than two months. That’s a choice that you make, but when I look at the CNN polling, Jake, I don’t see this on there.”
Pressed further about why it’s important for the president of the United States to tell the truth, Conway said, “Honestly, Jake, that’s the best I can do given my limited visibility in the legal matters and my very big visibility in the policy portfolio, and honestly, the great job this president is doing on many fronts that Americans tell those opinion leaders and pollsters they care about.”
She added: “Let’s also be honest to your viewers, who you know full well, many of them are grateful that [Trump is] in that job because they have their job. You’re denying the 5 million Americans who have received bonuses or raises or both because of a tax cut that your network continued to insist could never get through, and if it did, would only benefit the wealthy.”
Tapper tried a more direct approach: “Does his job include lying to the American people?”
“Respectfully, you just want that to go viral. You want to say the word President Trump and lie in the same sentence,” Conway said, to which Tapper replied, “No, I would like him to stop lying, quite frankly.”
Tapper also asked why Trump blamed Obama for “failing” to secure the release of U.S. hostages in North Korea when two of them were taken into custody while Trump was president.
“See, you’re focusing on the tweet, and we’re focusing on the hostages,” Conway said. Ugh. Retire, please.