Kellyanne Conway insisted that Donald Trump is "very respectful" of the U.S. intelligence community — one day after he called them haters, fools, and hacks.
Chief Trump apologist Kellyanne Conway was in clean-up mode Sunday morning, desperately trying to change the narrative a day after Donald Trump drew widespread criticism for defending Russian President Vladimir Putin and attacking the U.S. intelligence community during an overseas press conference.
Her comments come just 24 hours after Trump repeatedly attacked members of the intelligence community for their conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of electing Trump and undermining Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump said Saturday that the intelligence community’s assessment was a “Democratic hit job.”
Trump also said he believes Putin when he says Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election — a comment that drew a swift rebuke from the Central Intelligence Agency.
Later in the day, Trump tried to walk back his comments after facing condemnation from both sides of the political aisle, as well as from a slew of career intelligence officers and national security experts.
Asked about Trump’s contradictory comments, Conway told host Martha Raddatz that Trump believes Putin means it when he says Russia didn’t interfere in our democratic process but that he also “believes the assessment of the intelligence communities”
“He said President Putin believes it,” Conway said. “What the president believes is most important here. He believes the assessment of the intelligence communities.”
Raddatz pointed out the contradiction in those two statements, asking Conway: “Which is it?”
“No, it’s what I — I can’t imagine the president could be more explicit,” Conway responded. “He said yesterday as he said today that when President Putin says it, President Putin means it. He means that they didn’t interfere.”
Raddatz interjected, asking Conway if Trump believes that Putin is “delusional.”
Conway offered up her best alternative facts:
What the president believes is most important here. He believes the assessment of the intelligence communities. And he stands by that. He’s very respectful of that.
Conway also told Raddatz that the bipartisan criticism of Trump’s comments was just a distraction from the work he’s doing while in Asia.
Trump was trying to unify the world behind his agenda when he referred to former U.S. intelligence leaders as “political hacks” and called the collective assessment of the intelligence community a “Democratic hit job,” according to Conway.
Furthermore, Conway said, it’s not Trump’s job to worry about the integrity of the U.S. democratic process.
“[Y]ou know, the president is not the chairman of the board of elections in this country, he’s the president of the United States,” Conway said. “He wants to deal with President Putin and other world leaders as he has for two weeks right now, Martha, on major issues like global security, on trade, perhaps, on — in other countries, on combating ISIS, on a nuclearized North Korea.”
Perhaps Conway’s comments might be taken more seriously if Trump hadn’t spent the past year undermining the U.S. intelligence community and claiming that Russian interference is an excuse cooked up by Democrats for losing the election.
At least she tried.