Conway: Trump Damaged Clinton With (False) Indictment Story

Rainier Ehrhardt

Donald Trump’s campaign manager on Thursday grudgingly conceded that a story her candidate pushed on the trail about the FBI predicting an indictment for Hillary Clinton was baseless, but said that the political damage to the Democratic nominee was already done.

MSNBC’s “11th Hour” host Brian Williams asked Kellyanne Conway about a report from Fox News in which two anonymous “sources with intimate knowledge” of an FBI inquiry into the Clinton Foundation said an indictment of Clinton was “likely.” Trump recounted a version of the report to a crowd in Jacksonville, Florida on Thursday, crowing that “FBI agents” said his opponent would be indicted.

“This has been walked back, the indictment portion, by Fox News who originally reported it and by NBC News which has done subsequent reporting on this,” Williams said. “Will Donald Trump amend his stump speech to walk back the same thing?”

“Well, the damage is done to Hillary Clinton,” Conway replied. “No matter how it's being termed the voters are hearing it for what it is—a culture of corruption.”

Conway said the words of congressional Republicans like Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) proved that Clinton will face “all types of investigations” if elected and that the U.S. will “be living this nightmare” from the moment she takes office.

“I'm wondering why more Democrats aren't asking Hillary Clinton to step aside, get off the ticket for the good of the party, for the good of the election, for the good of the country and why not a single Democrat as far as I can tell has unendorsed her or said I don't want to run on the ticket with someone who is not under one but two FBI investigations,” she went on.

Top Democrats have stood by Clinton after FBI Director James Comey announced that the agency was looking into recently discovered emails that may be related to her use of a private email server. Fox and other publications have also reported on a separate FBI inquiry into whether Hillary Clinton’s State Department offered favors to Clinton Foundation donors.

Some two dozen Republicans actually unendorsed Trump or asked him to drop out after a tape leaked in which he bragged about groping women without consent, though most have since said they were still voting for him.

On MSNBC, Williams noted that falsely claiming that a political opponent will face indictment misleads voters.

“As a lawyer, you would concede indictment is not only a term of art, it's a term of law and that's a big difference to use the expression likely indictment when all the reporting is to the contrary,” he said.

“Fine,” Conway replied. “It just doesn't change what's in voters' minds right now and you see in the your own polling, you see in the other polling, Brian, which is—even though the polls were tightening before last Friday's explosive announcement by Mr. Comey you see that voters are putting it in this large cauldron of impressions and images and individuals and issues from which they eventually make a choice.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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