During an interview Monday on Good Morning America, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway had no answers for why Trump administration officials — including herself — repeatedly lied about their campaign communications with Russians.
Conway’s interview came the morning after Donald Trump Jr. admitted to meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer on June 9, 2016 — a meeting that occurred after he was promised the lawyer had damaging information to share about Hillary Clinton. Also attending that meeting were Paul Manafort, campaign chairman at the time, and current White House adviser Jared Kushner. The news was broken by the New York Times, which reported that “accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.”
Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos began by playing Conway a clip of a December 2016 interview in which she flatly denied that Trump campaign officials met with Russians during the campaign, saying that claims to the contrary are “not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous and it does undermine our democracy.”
Stephanopoulos then asked her, “who misled you, and why did Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort allow those public denials to stand for so many months?”
Conway had no answers. Instead, she repeatedly tried to pivot the conversation to the fact that Trump officials have since amended their security clearance application forms “to reflect other meetings, including this one.”
With regard to the June 9, 2016 meeting in particular, Stephanopoulos pressed Conway about how seeking a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian national in hopes of receiving damaging information about Clinton “isn’t at minimum an attempt to collusion.”
Conway responded by criticizing Hillary Clinton. She eventually conceded that “people involved the meeting” would be the ones to ask about why the public misstatements weren’t corrected earlier, and again noted that the security clearance applications have been corrected.
“But Kellyanne, that’s besides the point,” Stephanopoulos replied. Trump Jr. “was seeking the information, he was seeking damaging information, that’s why he had the meeting — how is that appropriate?”
Conway’s fallback position was that Trump Jr. may have met with the Russian lawyer expected to receive damaging information about Clinton, but “the point is she didn’t have it.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 10, 2017
It’s hard to defend the indefensible. Not only did Conway make false public statements about the Trump campaign’s meetings with Russians, but so did Vice President Mike Pence.
FLASHBACK: Mike Pence January 2017.
Q: Did any Trump campaign member have contact with the Russians?
Pence: "Of course not." pic.twitter.com/uSgQMkpydv
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 9, 2017
Just a month ago, Trump Jr. tweeted a story that he claimed debunked the notion that the Trump campaign had repeated contact with Russians.
Thanks James: Comey Debunks NYT report about Trump Campaign having repeated Russian contacts. https://t.co/YGKSFxaas3
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
Shortly after Conway’s Good Morning America interview concluded, Trump Jr. admitted that he attended the June 9 meeting as a representative of the Trump campaign.
Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent… went nowhere but had to listen. https://t.co/ccUjL1KDEa
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 10, 2017
Don Jr.’s tweet contradicts a statement he released to the New York Times in March claiming that while he met with Russians during the campaign, none of them were “set up” or involved him representing the campaign.
“Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did,” Don Jr. said. “But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way.”