When CNN host Christiane Amanpour came face-to-face with Kellyanne Conway on Monday evening, she wasted no time addressing the “10-ton gorilla in the room” after a pair of deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend.
“You are his senior counselor, and many, many people are asking whether now, all these words that he's used, all these phrases that he's used, will he follow up on what he urged the country today to put aside racial hatred, white supremacy and just stop all this hatred?” Amanpour asked Conway. “Will he do that now?”
Saying that “he already did it,” Conway turned around to accuse the Democrats running to unseat her boss of using “really hateful language.” Amanpour reminded her that Trump also accused the “fake news” of “spreading hatred and division” in the wake of the shootings.
Amanpour kept coming back to the rhetoric that Trump has used and was directly echoed in the El Paso shooter’s manifesto, including the description of an “invasion” at the southern border. She also played the clip of Trump laughing during a rally in the Florida panhandle earlier this year when someone in his audience suggested “shooting” migrants. “Only in the panhandle can you get away with that statement,” the president joked.
“Kellyanne, you're his senior counselor, you are really close to him,” Amanpour said. “Do you countenance those words that the president uses? Do you try to tell him not to use those words like ‘invasion,’ like ‘infestation,’ like all the words he uses which are associated with hate speech?”
Again, Conway deflected, trying to make the conversation about James Comey, Robert Mueller and the death penalty. “I'd like to know if the 2020 crowd who was preening and screaming all over your network and elsewhere is going to look America in the eye and somehow tell us that the death penalty should not be considered for this monster,” she said.
“I'm trying to have a grown-up conversation with you,” Amanpour replied at one point in an effort to get the interview back on track. When Conway accused the host of “not wanting to talk about” the opioid crisis, Amanpour shot back, “No, no, it's not that I don't want to talk about it” and “we're not talking about border security right now.”
Finally, returning to her original question, Amanpour asked, “I'm asking you, will you and the president's advisers seek to restrict his Twitter use and his other use of these words?” As Conway stalled, she added, “Yes or no? It's simple because if it's no, it's stays there at the top.”
Conway ultimately refused to say one way or the other: “I'm not telling you what I discuss with the president.”