CNN anchor Chris Cuomo grilled President Donald Trump’s top counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday about the president’s unfounded surveillance claims and the quality of Republicans plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
When asked on Sunday about Trump’s unfounded claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump’s phone, Conway responded by citing the “many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately.”
“There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets. Any number of different ways. Microwaves that turn into cameras, etcetera,” Conway said.
In a live televised interview that lasted over 20 minutes on CNN Monday morning, the counselor appeared to slightly walk back her statement, claiming that she was “not Inspector Gadget,” and didn’t believe people used microwaves to spy on the Trump campaign.
“I was answering a question about surveillance techniques generally. I was reflecting what people saw in the news last week, which was several articles about how we can surveil each other generally,” Conway said.
But Cuomo pressed Conway about why she raised the surveillance capabilities in the first place, if not to insinuate that it was possible Obama could have surveilled Trump.
“This goes to personal integrity, what kind of message you’re putting out. And this seems to be a distraction,” Cuomo said. “You’ve now had injected into this look at what Russia’s contacts are with the campaign this wiretapping that is without basis. And the person who made the accusation could answer it with a phone call, and for some reason hasn’t. It doesn’t seem right, Kellyanne.”
He added: “It seemed to be an effective way of putting more doubt on a situation. That’s what it came across as,” Cuomo said.
“Maybe to you and maybe to other people who don’t necessarily want Donald Trump to be the president. But other people, they see it as what it was,” Conway replied, before briefly praising the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to investigate Trump’s claims.
Cuomo took issue with Conway’s insinuation that the CNN anchor did not want Trump to be president.
“That is just not fair. My questioning of you, my questioning of his baseless claim about wiretapping is not about not wanting the president to be president. That is unfair and it’s hurtful because you’re feeding people’s animosity,” Cuomo said.
“Feeding people’s animosity? Look over your shoulder. I have 24-7 Secret Service protection because of people feeding people’s animosity,” Conway replied. “So don’t claim that privilege.”
The heated interview continued for another fifteen minutes, as they sparred over Trump’s flip-flop on the veracity of the monthly federal jobs report and claims that the American Health Care Act will provide better care for Americans than the ACA, known as Obamacare.
The two appeared to agree on few facts.
Cuomo argued that it was a “red herring” for Republicans to suggest that purchasing healthcare across state lines could reduce cost, and that some states hamstrung themselves by refusing to accept the Medicaid expansion offered under Obamacare that would have helped more people afford health insurance.
Conway pointed out that some insurance companies claimed Obamacare was in a “death spiral,” and that Obamacare was preventing people from affording health insurance, a claim that Cuomo said was “just a slogan.”
“You just told millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance that they are just a slogan,” Conway said.
“No I didn’t. Listen, Kellyanne I did not just tell anyone they’re just a slogan. That’s what get’s you in trouble. I’m not someone who doesn’t want President Trump to be president so I ask tough questions. I’m not someone who is calling people a slogan,” Cuomo said.
“You’re taking things way too personally,” Conway said.
The exchanged represented a return to form for Conway, who claimed she would not appear on television as frequently in the days after her endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, a move that earned a rebuke from government ethics watchdogs.
The exchange may have also had some fairly high-profile viewers.
Shortly after the interview concluded, Trump took to Twitter defended his television surrogates.
Watch the clip below, via CNN:
It is amazing how rude much of the media is to my very hard working representatives. Be nice, you will do much better!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2017
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