The fact that nearly three years in, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is still a part of the Trump administration proves that she’s not only a survivor, but a strong individual capable of fighting back when faced with controversy.
While those traits mimic her boss, President Donald Trump, they also come in handy as the media piled on Friday amid the claim that Conway threatened to investigate a reporter’s personal life.
In the end, Conway adamantly declared what she shouldn’t have to declare: Her marriage to George Conway, a fierce Trump critic, is no one’s business.
The latest controversy centers on a phone call with Washington Examiner’s Caitlin Yilek, where each side had different ideas about whether or not it was on the record, Conway tore into the reporter over an article about her being considered as Trump’s chief-of-staff because Yilek noted her husband’s dislike of the president and how that put Conway in an awkward position.
Yilek interpreted as a threat Conway’s parting comment that “if you’re going to cover my personal life, then we’re welcome to do the same around here.”
Appearing on Fox News’ “American Newsroom,” Conway was asked if she abused, bullied, or threatened Yilek, as the Examiner alleged.
“No, I didn’t. No, of course not,” Conway said. “What I said is there for everybody to listen to. A lot of reporters, particularly old school reporters have read it and contacted me and they have a very different opinion of that screed.”
The comment is a reference to the audio of the call, along with a transcript, being released by the newspaper.
Conway explained her actions while telling host Sandra Smith there was no need to show the Examiner editor’s claims because she had “already disabused everybody of what he said.”
Smith asked Conway if she regretted “anything about the way you handled that?”
“I never said if it was on or off the record because I don’t much care,” Conway said. “She must have thought it was off the record because the reporter then says, ‘Would you like to put any of this on the record?’ So they aren’t even paying attention.”
“I know it got 15 minutes of fame and I know it gets some kicks and clicks,” she added, before urging viewers to go to her Twitter page and read the statement she put out on the matter.
Conway repeatedly insisted she didn’t say anything on the phone call that she had not said publicly before.
She also commented on her relationship with her husband.
“George and I agree on many big things, we disagree on many big things,” Conway explained. “None of that affects my job here and exactly none of that is anybody’s business. So there is my message again.”
As fiery as she was in the Fox News interview, Conway was even more contentious when addressing reporters on the White House lawn.
When asked about threatening the Examiner reporter, the president’s counselor pushed back hard.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” she interjected, stopping the unidentified reporter in his tracks. “I never threatened anyone. Don’t use those words.”
“You said you want to cover her personal life,” he responded, to clarify his question.
“No, no, no, I didn’t threat,” she responded. “It’s not a threat. I didn’t threaten her. Excuse me, don’t use that word if it’s not true. Do not. If I threaten somebody, you’ll know it.”
To ensure her message got across, she repeated herself.
“If I threaten someone, you’ll know it. Okay? And so don’t do that,” Conway said.
The reporter continued to focus on whether or not her words constitute a threat, but Conway opted to focus on the point she was trying to make with Yilek.
“I still didn’t get an answer from her, which was the essential question, which was, ‘Why do you call yourself a breaking news reporter if you’re not writing breaking news and you’re not even being a reporter?’ Don’t characterize the way I feel without ever having met, talked to me, or called me for a story.”
After further explanation of what she said and the questions she had for Yilek on her reporting, the reporter she was speaking to went right back to the claim that Conway allegedly threatened the Examiner reporter.
“Don’t use the word ‘threatened,’ don’t use the word ‘investigate.’ And stop being so silly,” she replied. “Honestly, stop being so silly.”
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