White House counselor Kellyanne Conway spent close to 35 minutes on air arguing with CNN host Chris Cuomo Monday, intensifying the ongoing battle between the network and President Trump.
In an exchange that epitomized car-crash TV, Conway asked Cuomo if he was ’embarrassed’ that his network spends more time talking about Russia than it does about America.
Conway specifically took issue with the fact that CNN spent days telling viewers that the President would avoid confronting Vladimir Putin at the G20 meeting about election interference.
“CNN spent a full week plus doing nothing but having these headlines saying President Trump is not expected to bring up Russian interference with president Putin,” said Conway.
“He made it top of the agenda. It was first on the list. He pressed him early and often,” Conway urged.
“Did he press him or ask him whether he did it?” Cuomo argued back.
“But that’s not good enough” Conway replied. “Did CNN say he wasn’t going to mention it at all or didn’t they? Oh, they did. We have these great montage. People say stuff that isn’t true.”
The host then suggested that there was no evidence that the exchange really happened.
“I stand by my reporting on it,” Cuomo said, adding “The day before the meeting, the president was very squishy on Russian interference. He said okay, it was Russia, but it was other people. Nobody knows for sure. That was his last public statement about it before he went into a meeting.”
“And then a meeting in which he didn’t allow a notetaker to be in it. We don’t have any readout from it. We hear he confronted them about it. He said we know you did it. Then we know you asked him about it. Which is it? Did he say I know you did it, stop? Or did he say did you do it, Mr. Putin? Which is it?” Cuomo said.
“So, you’re saying — you used the word squishy which, itself, is unusual to describe the president’s state of mind,” Conway said. “So, somehow that makes people on CNN insist that the president is never going to raise this with Putin.”
“It’s not about CNN,” Cuomo exclaimed. “It’s about what the president said, Kellyanne.”
“No. It’s about people stating things that they want America to think are facts,” Conway retorted. “Aren’t you the least bit reluctant, if not embarrassed that you now talk about Russia more than you talk about America?” she asked
“No,” Cuomo responded.
“Doesn’t this bother anybody there?” Conway asked, adding “I think America matters,” as the subjected moved to the latest media attempt to link Trump to Russia, Donald Trump Jr.’s alleged June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer.
The two then continued to argue about the context of Trump Jr’s statement, with Cuomo ordering producers to put it on screen, and aggressively interrupting Conway repeatedly.
“I admire your moxie — sitting there with that CNN logo right near you talking about credibility issues.” Conway told Cuomo.
“I could not be more proud to have that CNN chyron,” the host responded.
“And I could not be more proud to be here representing the White House,” Conway responded. “You wanted to produce something [showing Trump dealing with Russians], because you’ve invested months now, as a network, in something that simply doesn’t exist.”