WASHINGTON — Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, denied Sunday that the White House has a credibility crisis and said Trump learned about a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels after the fact.
“No, I don’t,” Conway said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked by anchor Jake Tapper if regular falsehoods and lies from Trump had eroded the White House’s credibility.
She also defended Trump’s statement on Air Force One in April that he was unaware of a payment by his attorney Michael Cohen to Daniels for her discretion about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump by saying the President was unaware of the arrangement at the time it occurred.
“When the President said ‘no’ on Air Force One, he was talking about he didn’t know when the payment occurred,” Conway said. “So he’s saying he didn’t know about it when the payment occurred. He found out about it after the fact.”
Other payments ‘did not cross my desk’
Conway said she was unaware of any other payments similar to the one made in the Daniels matter, but acknowledged that she had less knowledge of any potential arrangements than former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani, who was recently hired Trump’s attorney, said in a separate interview Sunday that he did not know if Cohen paid other women to keep quiet.
“They did not cross my desk as campaign manager,” Conway said of other potential payments. “And I would also tell you that I’m happy to answer these questions, but I have limited visibility into what Mayor Giuliani is talking about.”
Conway said repeatedly that Trump was not lying when he said he did not know about Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels. Asked about Trump’s statement on Air Force One that he did not know where Cohen got the money to pay Daniels, Conway referred to Trump’s tweets Thursday. Trump denied in the tweets that any campaign money was used to reimburse Cohen and said he was paid via retainer. The payment has prompted complaints to the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission over potential violations of campaign finance law.
Conway also stressed that Trump has denied Daniels’ allegations of an affair between the two, and said she accepted his denial.
“Yes, he’s denied it,” Conway said. “So I have no reason to believe otherwise.”
No credibility crisis
Trump’s campaign and presidency have been marked by his regular assertion of demonstrably untrue statements as fact. A recent tally by The Washington Post found the President has made more than 3,000 false or misleading claims since he took office.
Pressed repeatedly on this point, Conway spoke about Trump’s work on a range of issues, such as the economy, North Korea and the opioid crisis, and denied the White House was facing a credibility crisis.
She also said the Post had found that then-President Barack Obama told “some whoppers” during his time in office.
Asked about a tweet from Trump on Wednesday blaming Obama for failing to secure the release of three hostages from North Korea, despite two of the hostages being taken during the Trump administration, Conway dismissed the question.
“You’re focusing on the tweet, and we’re focused on the hostages,” Conway said.