Kellyanne Conway and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence defended President-Elect Donald Trump’s “congratulatory” phone call with Taiwan’s president and dismissed the meltdown from the media during interviews on Sunday morning talk shows.
When news broke Friday that Trump had spoken with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the president-elect came under fire for breaking with over 35 years of foreign policy and risking China’s ire. But as the media, pundits, and Democratic politicians decried the conversation, Trump’s former campaign manager and his running mate came to his defense and downplayed the hysteria.
“The president-elect’s perspective is that he accepted a congratulatory call.”
“It was just a phone call at this point,” Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It signals the fact that [Trump] accepted a congratulatory call. I know that China has a perspective on it, I know the White House and State Department probably have a perspective on it, and certainly Taiwan has a perspective on it, but the president-elect’s perspective is that he accepted a congratulatory call.”
Conway noted that Trump is well aware about the “one China” policy, which the U.S. has acknowledged and which does not recognize Taiwan as its own independent country.
“We know about one China. He knows about one China. He’s routinely briefed on these matters and that’s just what it is,” Conway said, adding that Trump was “not out there making policy or announcing new policy prescriptions worldwide.”
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“[The] president-elect received a phone call from a world leader in another country,” Conway said. “He’s merely taking phone calls, and he will I’m sure reengage with many of these leaders once he takes the oath of office.”
Ultimately, Conway advised pundits to not “read too much” into the phone call.
In his own appearance on ABC News’ “This Week,” Pence affirmed Conway’s assessment and reassured host George Stephanopoulos that Trump’s conversation with Tsai was “nothing more than taking a courtesy call.”
“They reached out to offer congratulations as leaders around the world have,” Pence said. “He took the call, accepted her congratulations and good wishes.”
Pence added, “It’s a little mystifying to me that President Obama can reach out to a murdering dictator in Cuba in the last year and be hailed as a hero for doing it and President-Elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from the democratically elected leader of Taiwan, and it’s become something of a controversy.”
Pence was referring to President Obama’s interactions with former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who died in late November.
Conway dismissed the incident as the mainstream media and mourning liberals continuing to create controversy around Trump. Those people “just have their hair on fire,” Conway said.