Thirty-five minutes. That’s how long White House counselor Kellyanne Conway spent tangling with CNN New Day host Chris Cuomo, even as Cuomo said the White House was telling his producers to end the interview.
“Your people say you have to go, by the way,” Cuomo told Conway about 28 minutes into the marathon interview. “So you make sure that the White House press office doesn’t yell at me… I’ve got people yelling in my ear that you have to go.”
If you have the free time, here’s the entire exchange, with Conway joining the conversation from a studio in Philadelphia.
Kellyanne Conway defends Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian lawyer, watch the full interview https://t.co/2zRfras7g2
— CNN (@CNN) July 10, 2017
The dominant topic was a New York Times report that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in June of 2016, just weeks after Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination.
Conway didn’t deny that the meeting happened, even though back in December she stated unequivocally that officials in the Trump campaign “absolutely” did not have contact with Russians. “Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s fact on television,” Conway said at the time.
Trump Jr. himself admitted in a statement to the Times that not only did the meeting take place, but that the motivation for the meeting was to potentially obtain negative information about Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, a point he reiterated on Twitter Monday morning.
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
Instead of doubling-down on denials of the meeting, Conway attempted to downplay its importance to Cuomo.
“You’re trying to have your viewers think, ‘Oh my Gd, because these three principals were in there, it was imbued with some type of seriousness that simply wasn’t true,” Conway said. “Let’s focus on what did not happen in that meeting. No information was provided that was meaningful, no action was taken. Nothing.”
“You don’t care if Russia was trying to get inside your campaign to affect the election?” Cuomo asked.
“You don’t know what I care about!” Conway fired back.
“That was a question,” Cuomo responded. “There was a question mark at the end of it.”
On and on the back-and-forth went, blasting through several commercial breaks until the discussion returned to the Trump-promoted narrative that CNN is “fake news,” with Cuomo unsuccessfully attempting to get Conway to admit that the media does matter.
“They has to be more balance. You need someone who’s reflecting the viewpoint of being fair,” Conway said of CNN’s multi-panel discussion groups, forgetting that the network specifically pays 12 contributors, like Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany, to defend Trump and his policies during newscasts.
“If you want flattery there’s another channel that can give you that. We try and keep it straight, we go with both sides and we test power,” Cuomo said.
“I don’t need flattery.” Conway whispered as Cuomo was finally able to end the interview at the 35-minute mark.