White House counselor Kellyanne Conway sparred with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night, saying President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey does not amount to “a cover-up.”
“He went in there, he assessed the situation,” Conway said. “This is what leaders do. They take decisive action based on the information that is provided.”
Conway pointed to three letters released by the White House from Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explaining that Comey’s conduct during the latter stages of the 2016 presidential campaign had sullied the bureau’s reputation.
But Trump, Cooper pointed out, had praised Comey for his decision to alert Congress that the FBI was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of an email server on Oct. 28, just 11 days before the election. Earlier this month, Clinton blamed that decision, in part, for her loss to Trump.
“As a candidate, Trump praised James Comey, he talked about this on the campaign all the time. All of a sudden the White House is concerned about James Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails?” Cooper asked Conway. “Why now are you concerned about the Hillary Clinton email investigation when as a candidate, Trump was praising it from the campaign trail?”
“I think you’re looking at the wrong set of facts here,” Conway replied. “You’re going back to the campaign. This man is the president of the United States.”
“That makes no sense,” Cooper said during their tense, 13-minute exchange. “So that person doesn’t exist anymore, candidate Donald Trump, that’s a fictional character we are no longer allowed to refer to? We can now only refer to the Donald Trump that exists today?”
“This had nothing to do with Russia as much as somebody must be getting $50 every time the word is said, I’m convinced, on TV,” Conway protested. “This has nothing do with Russia. It has everything to do with whether the current FBI director has the president’s confidence and can faithfully and capably execute his duties.”
Cooper was not convinced.
“You don’t think it looks odd at all that the president of the United States is firing the guy who’s leading the investigation into the president’s White House and the people around the president?” he pressed.
“The president is not under investigation,” Conway replied. “I’m around the president, I’m not under investigation. I can name several people in that same situation.”
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