During a Fox & Friends interview Friday morning, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway characterized this week’s revelations about the Trump campaign’s willingness to collude with the Russian government as a non-story.
Her strategy was to dismiss mere collusion as an issue, saying Trump critics promised much more.
“We were promised systemic, hard evidence of systemic sustained furtive collusion that not only interfered with our election process but indeed dictated the electoral outcome,” she said.
Conway’s comments break sharply what she said in December 2016, when she was asked during a Face the Nation interview if “anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?”
“Absolutely not,” she replied. “And I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous.”
We now know that not only did those conversations happen, but the Trump campaign — including then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and current White House adviser Jared Kushner — were eager to participate. Kushner and Manafort, along with Donald Trump Jr., attended a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who, through an intermediary, promised to provide them with incriminating information from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton.
Conway was pressed about the difference between what she said then and what we know now during a Good Morning America interview on Monday. She struggled mightily to defend herself and other administration officials, instead stressing that Trump officials have since amended their security clearance forms “to reflect other meetings.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 10, 2017
Conway isn’t the only White House official with shifting stories about Russia. President Trump has already walked back the story he and Trump Jr. initially told about Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer. Both Trump and his son initially said the president didn’t know about it until a few days ago. But that changed on Wednesday night, when Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One, “In fact maybe it was mentioned at some point.”