Kellyanne Conway appeared Sunday on ABC‘s This Week to discuss whether it’s true that Donald Trump is a racist. Omarosa Manigault, who served as Director of African-American Outreach for Trump’s campaign, then as Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison after Trump’s election, has reportedly said in he new book, Unhinged, that Trump has been heard to use racial slurs. She then claims that she personally heard him use racially-charged language in the White House.
Kellyanne Conway appeared in the interview to argue against Omarosa’s claims, but when she was asked to name the highest-placed African American in the West Wing, Conway couldn’t do it, and instead began to deflect and ramble.
Crooks and Liars caught the evasion in the interview and the fact that the president’s representative instead went into a rambling rant of unrelated accusations. Throughout the interview, Kellyanne engages in her habitual refusal to actually answer any questions.
For instance, attempting to combat the claim that Trump used ‘racially-charged language’ in the White House, she instead argues that she’s never heard him use a racial slur — an evasive maneuver that fails to answer the question by ignoring the line between actual slurs and more general racist speech.
To further prove that Trump definitely isn’t racist, and distance his administration from racism, Kellyanne pulls out a few favorite dog whistle: prison population, Chicago, and inner cities. First, she insists that Trump is doing great things for the African-American population by enacting prison reform that allows a second chance to convicts who have served their time. Then she tells Jonathon Karl he should investigate Chicago instead.
So why don’t you go send a reporter to Chicago, to Baltimore, to Philadelphia? The mayor of Philadelphia said, “We’re no longer going to give information to ICE,” and a child was sexually abused by an illegal alien who should not have been there. Why don’t you go cover the violence in, in, we’ve got an increase in homelessness and violence and crime in these major inner cities….
Kellyanne is then asked about Trump’s refusal to denounce the neo-nazi marches. A year after the Unite the Right march in Charlottesville that ended in the death of one counter-protester last year, at the hands of a man participating in the event. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say racial tensions have worsened under Trump. Conway insists that Trump did, and does, denounce racism while refusing to acknowledge that he said there were wonderful people ‘on both sides.’
It all comes boiling over when Jonathan Karl asks who the highest-placed African-American serving in the West Wing is, with Omarosa now out of the equation. Kellyanne cannot give an answer. Instead, she accuses ABC of not covering the fact that Ben Carson is Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. When pressed to name White House staff, she says, “We have Ja’Ron.”
Pressing her, Karl asks if Ja’Ron has an office in the West Wing.
“He has an office in the EOP, absolutely, the Executive Office of the President.”
Ja’Ron is presumably Jaron Smith, who University of Washington names in a 2017 list of Trump’s Domestic Policy Announcements as the new appointee to the Department of Urban Affairs and Revitalization. Kellyanne does not clarify this or give a last name during her interview.
“But not in the West Wing,” presses Karl. “What does that say to not have a single advisor in the West Wing, who’s African American?”
Unable to name one individual, Conway starts stuttering and trying to change the subject again.
I didn’t say that there wasn’t, but hold on!” Kellyanne insists, adding, “There are plenty of people. If you’re — if you’re — if you’re going by that, and not by the actions of the President, which you probably should, then you should look at the fact that we have a number of different minorities, and, and the fact is, that this president is doing well for all Americans.
With no more to add as an actual answer to the question, Conway turns her response into an attack, accusing Karl of failing to cover the lowered unemployment rates for African Americans, to which he notes that he has indeed mentioned that fact on the show multiple times.