Donald Trump’s campaign manager says the man who sparked a security scare at the Republican nominee’s rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday night was planted by the Democrats to disrupt the event — and she refused to condemn Donald Trump Jr. and the candidate’s social media director for retweeting the false assertion that it was an assassination attempt.
“This is a Democratic plant or operative trying to disrupt our rally,” Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday. “And I think people saw a nimble and resilient Donald Trump who I think would be nimble and resilient as well as president.”
The chaotic scene unfolded as Trump had paused his stump speech to call out a protester when several Secret Service agents suddenly grabbed the GOP nominee and rushed him off the stage. Multiple witnesses near the front of the stage told reporters that they believed that the man had a gun. But the Secret Service later said no weapon was found.
The protester later identified himself to reporters as Austyn Crites and a Republican who is supporting Hillary Clinton. Crites told KTNV that he was assaulted by Trump supporters as he tried to hold up a sign that read: “Republicans Against Trump.”
Trump returned to the stage to finish his speech. No charges were filed, and Crites was released.
But shortly after incident, Trump social media director Dan Scavino Jr. and Donald Trump Jr. each retweeted a message from a Trump supporter who wrote: “Hillary [Clinton] ran away from rain today. Trump is back on stage minutes after assassination attempt.” Scavino is also a senior Trump campaign adviser and the younger Trump is a top campaign surrogate.
Hillary ran away from rain today. Trump is back on stage minutes after assassination attempt. pic.twitter.com/KjCmdnV5Hb
— Jack Posobiec ???????? (@JackPosobiec) November 6, 2016
Tapper wondered why Conway would tolerate the spread of misinformation.
“This was not an assassination attempt,” Tapper said. “Why is your campaign spreading that it was?”
“That’s really remarkable that that’s what the storyline is here,” Conway replied during an increasingly contentious interview. “Thank you for reminding people that rain chased her away — there weren’t a lot of people at her rally to begin with.”
Conway, who criticized the Clinton campaign for allowing Beyoncé and Jay Z to perform songs with explicit lyrics at her rally Friday night, said the Democratic nominee would’ve struggled to draw a crowd without the star power.
“I think she has to travel nonstop with Beyoncé and Jay Z and the likes of that just to prop her up and get a decent crowd,” Conway said Sunday. “People, by the way, are there to see Beyoncé, not to see her.”
Conway then turned the conversation into an attack on CNN. She asserted that the television network had claimed that Clinton had the race locked up.
“Is CNN going to retract all the storylines, all the headlines, all the breathless predictions of the last two weeks that turned out not to be true?” Conway asked. “’The race is over. The path is closed. It’s going to be a blowout.’ You guys retract that and I’ll give a call to Dan Scavino about the retweet.”
“I never reported anything along those lines,” Tapper said.
“CNN certainly has,” Conway fired back. “CNN certainly has. CNN certainly has. I love CNN, but you gotta be honest here.”
“We’ve been saying all along that Donald Trump has a path to the presidency,” Tapper said.
“Wow!” Conway exclaimed.
“You can say ‘wow’ all you want,” Tapper said. “I’ve never said that the race was over.”