Conway: Trump-Russia Collusion ‘Goalposts Have Been Moved’

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway is interviewed by Howard Kurtz during a taping of his "MediaBuzz" program on the Fox News Channel, in New York Friday, March 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Richard Drew/AP

White House aide Kellyanne Conway accused critics of the Trump administration of moving the goalposts on the ongoing investigations into possible coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals.

The goalposts have been moved,” Conway told “Fox & Friends” Friday morning. “We were promised systemic — hard evidence of systemic, sustained, furtive collusion that not only interfered with our election process but indeed dictated the electoral outcome. And one of the only people who says that seriously these days is still Hillary Clinton and nobody believes it.”

However, authorities investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election have long asserted that there is no evidence votes were physically changed as part of the effort.

Conway’s analysis came in response to coverage of Donald Trump Jr., who admitted to meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign. Campaign manager Paul Manafort and top aide Jared Kushner were also in attendance.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist, was also at the meeting — contradicting the Trump administration’s boasts about transparency in acknowledging the meeting. NBC News first reported Akhmetshin’s attendance, but did not name him.

“Would people call you up all the time and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got some dirt on her,’ and would you take a meeting with them?” Steve Doocy asked.

“No,” Conway said. “No.”

But she hedged when Doocy reminded her that the President said the meeting was the type of thing that, in Doocy’s words, “happened all the time.” 

“Sometimes people want to aggrandize their own positions,” she responded in part. “Sometimes they wish to be helpful. Many meetings end up as a bust that aren’t particularly meaningful, consequential or helpful.”

And Conway hedged again when asked why everyone in Trump’s orbit wouldn’t just lay their hands on the table, and extensively list any exchange they had during and since the campaign with Russian nationals.

“Every single colleague I know here at the White House and in the administration, in the campaign, even if they don’t serve here, ladies and gentlemen, have said they are willing to cooperate,” she said. “They are willing to share whatever they know.”

“People would argue that’s not true,” Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt replied. “Because that meeting happened a year and a month ago. And so people are wondering why Don Jr. just didn’t come forward and say that right after it happened?”

“Well, in terms of those who work here, who have been asked to cooperate, they have made very clear through their attorneys that they are willing to cooperate,” Conway said, now making no mention of people in Trump’s orbit who don’t work at the White House, which would include Donald Jr.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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