Kellyanne Conway, Tapper Spar Over Trump’s Refusal to Recognize White Nationalism Problem

Kellyanne Conway, Tapper Spar Over Trump’s Refusal to Recognize White Nationalism Problem

A conversation between Jake Tapper and Kellyanne Conway devolved into a near argument Sunday morning when the CNN anchor asked the White House councilor if President Trump thinks, in the wake of Saturday’s shooting at a synagogue near San Diego, that white nationalism is a growing problem.

In response, Conway dodged, ducked, and spun like a dreidel to avoid answering.

Tapper started off by playing a comment from Trump when he was asked after the New Zealand mosque shooting that killed 50 people in March, if white nationalism is a growing threat around the world. Trump responded, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”

Conway immediately turned it back to Trump’s “very fine people” comments after the Charlottesville riots in 2017. She accused the media of lying about Trump’s response then and said the president was only talking about people protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, not the white supremacists they were marching with. (As Vox’s Jane Coaston demonstrated this week, the march was always promoted as a white supremacist march, not a statue removal protest.)

Conway then claimed the president had “unequivocally” condemned the white supremacists in Charlottesville and she and Tapper sparred over that for a couple of minutes. This was exactly the ground Conway wanted to fight on, as it is more important to the president and his team to correct what they see as a misconception about comments he made almost two years ago and salve his ego than it is to talk about the problem in front of them.

Tapper tried to return to his original question. Conway immediately criticized Joe Biden for having made the Charlottesville comments and Trump’s hero status among white nationalists the centerpiece of his campaign launch this past week before saying that “all anti-Christiantiy, antisemitism, anti-Muslim activity should be condemned, dead full stop.”

When Tapper pointed out that one of Trump’s first acts in office was to ban Muslims from seven countries from entering America, Conway accused him of being afraid that Trump “can’t be beaten fairly and squarely” in 2020.

Yep, it was that kind of an interview.

Watch the entire clip above, via CNN.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.