WASHINGTON – Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway pushed back on news reports suggesting that President Trump is going to replace White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, calling the information “very thinly sourced, if at all.”
“I have no news to report and I do find the outsized, overwrought non-coverage coverage of personnel in this White House has been mostly fantastical more than fact-based over time,” Conway said during Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit last week.
Conway was asked about her husband, George Conway, who argued in a New York Times op-ed that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s appointment is unconstitutional. Conway, an attorney, often posts tweets critical of the Trump administration.
“Should we ask you what your husband’s opinion is on things? That’s fascinating. Anyway, so people disagree about the Constitution every day, that’s why we have a circuit court system, that’s why we have a United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is there to settle legal arguments about the Constitution,” she replied. “So I don’t think it’s anything new that either spouses disagree or that people disagree about the Constitution.”
Conway noted that Trump was asked about her husband’s criticism of his administration recently.
“The president doesn’t really care how it affects him because it doesn’t. He cares how it affects me because he’s a very good boss to the women who work at the White House – why else would we be there? There would be no point,” she said.
In a separate interview at the event, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said Democrats are going to continue pushing for Whitaker to recuse himself from the Russia probe. Before his appointment, Whitaker was vocal about curtailing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“We have a lot more leverage now. If they want Democratic votes on their budgets in this lame-duck session, we’re going to insist that there’s protections for the probe,” Swalwell said.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, is “even more concerned” about the Russia probe now that the Justice Department has formally stated that Trump’s replacement of Jeff Sessions with Whitaker was legal.
“My concern is perhaps a little different than others. I’m not concerned about him shutting down the probe because I think he’s running into a high-IQ, skilled prosecutor in Mr. Mueller,” Cleaver said. “We’ve had a member of Congress actually take information that should have been privileged for committee only, so my big concern is that someone from the Justice Department could actually get briefed and take the information to the White House. And I think that’s the most dangerous thing we can do at this moment because I think democracy swings in the balance right now, and I don’t think that’s being melodramatic.”
Swalwell, who is considering a presidential run in 2020, elaborated on his recent tweet that said Trump’s days of “presidential immunity are over.”
“If he had fired Sessions last Monday, we would be powerless just as we were in the last two years. We would be very loud. There would be protests but he fired him on Wednesday [the day after the election] and we’re not powerless anymore, so they’re not ending the Mueller probe. We’re going to insist that Whitaker recuse himself because he’s prejudged the investigation,” he said.
“These days where he could cash in on access to the Oval Office, where he could meet with Vladimir Putin in a private setting and not tell any of us what happened while all these questions about Russian interference still linger, the days where he won’t turn over his tax returns while he has these financial entanglements, that they’re over, that presidential immunity is what he’s had in the last two years,” he added.
Cleaver expressed disappointment in the rhetoric Trump has used as president.
“He has wiped out every traditional norm of behavior that we came to expect and then said last week that the White House was a sacred place – and I wonder why he didn’t tell whatever the rapper’s name is, Kanye West, whatever his name is, I mean, who made some of the nastiest comments, I mean, I couldn’t believe it,” Cleaver said.
“I had been in that Oval Office with three different presidents and, I mean, I was nervous. I had prayer with George Bush, just the two of us, and felt blessed to be able to hold hands with the president and pray in the Oval Office. And now it needs to be fumigated. I mean, we had a guy who came in there and was as nasty in the Oval Office as you could find people in a nightclub,” he added.
During the summit, Conway emphasized that the Trump administration is focused on issues such as the opioid crisis, explaining that the interdiction of fentanyl at the border is up 50 percent.
Switching gears to economic policies, Conway said Trump is “dignifying all types of work” from stay-at-home mothers to auto mechanics.
“These economic measures are meant to help everyone,” she said.
She said Medicare-for-all, a proposal floated by some Democrats during the midterm campaign, is “very dangerous.”
“Medicare for all could mean a lot less Medicare for seniors,” she said.