Pelosi Refuses to Condemn ‘Disgusting’ Attack on Conway
Democratic leader struggles to respond to controversies after calling Trump 'deflector-in-chief'
Moments after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mocked President Donald Trump as the nation’s “Deflector-in-Chief,” she herself dodged answers to two of CNN’s “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper’s tough questions during an interview Sunday.
Pelosi called out the “Deflector-in-Chief” for allegedly avoiding tough questions about his allies’ connections with Russia. Then, Pelosi found herself in the hot seat. When Tapper asked her about Rep. Cedric Richmond’s (D-La.) “sexist,” “disgusting,” and “crude” joke that demeaned White House counselor Kellyanne Conway after a photo of her sitting on her knees on a couch in the Oval Office went viral last week, Pelosi awkwardly pivoted.
“Shouldn’t the congressman apologize to Kellyanne Conway?” Tapper asked Pelosi. “And honestly, where is the Democratic Party in expressing outrage about this?”
Pelosi struggled to respond, claiming that she could not weigh in on the issue because she wasn’t in attendance at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual awards dinner when Richmond cracked the crude joke, saying that Conway “looked kind of familiar in that position there.”
“I wasn’t at the dinner. I’m just finding out about this,” Pelosi claimed, before pivoting to another line of conversation. “But, the fact is, I’m still in sort of in a state of ‘what is going on here,’ that the person who occupies the White House is the person who was on that Hollywood video that said the crude things he said about women.”
Pelosi was referring to the 2005 Access Hollywood tape, which resurfaced late during the 2016 presidential election, in which Trump could be heard making crude remarks about women. Democrats, Republicans, and the media all criticized Trump over the words, for which he later apologized. But Richmond offered Conway no such apology for his own joke.
“You all are criticizing Cedric for something he said in the course of the evening, and he maybe should be criticized for that. I just don’t know the particulars,” Pelosi added. “But I do every day marvel at the fact that somebody who said the gross and crude things that President Trump said wouldn’t even be allowed in a frat house, and he’s in the White House.”
Tapper pressed Pelosi for the apparent hypocrisy of slamming Republicans for crude comments but failing to denounce vulgar comments from one of her own party’s lawmakers.
“Well, I think we’ve covered the Access Hollywood tape quite a bit,” Tapper said. “But I guess, the question is: If one criticizes only Republicans when they make crude comments, does that not undermine the moral authority if they don’t criticize when Democrats make crude comments?”
Pelosi deflected, responding, “I think everybody was making crude comments. I just don’t know. I wasn’t at that dinner.”
Instead of condemning Richmond for his remarks and demanding that he apologize to Conway, Pelosi chose to take a jab at Conway.
“I do think that in the Oval Office we were always, always with perfect — with decorum appropriate for the White House,” Pelosi said.
Even Chelsea Clinton, daughter of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, did what Pelosi could not and demanded an apology from Richmond.
“Despicable. I hope @KellyannePolls receives the apology she deserves — certainly never thought I’d write that & I mean every word,” Clinton tweeted Friday.
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Pelosi also struggled to respond to her own apparent ties to the Russians.
As the U.S. continues to deal with the fallout of Russian hacking allegations intended to sway the results of the 2016 election, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came under fire late Wednesday when it was revealed that he had met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — even though Sessions said under oath that he had engaged in no meetings with Russians. Sessions claims that the meetings with Kislyak pertained to his own role as a U.S. senator, not as a Trump campaign surrogate.
Outraged, Pelosi claimed that she had never met with Kislyak in her call for Sessions to resign. But it soon came to light that she had indeed met with Kislyak and former Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev in 2010, along with other House members. And Tapper called for her to respond to her own claims.
Saying that “there’s a big difference” between what she said and what Sessions said, Pelosi denied that she lied and quibbled over the definition of a “meeting.”
“We were meeting with the president of Russia. He brought an entourage in with him. He was the one who was doing the talking,” Pelosi said. “The question was, ‘Have you met with him?’ No, I haven’t met with him. I met with the president of Russia. Who else was in his entourage? Who knows? Presidents, heads of state come in. They bring their party. They barely even introduce them. So this is completely different.”
“Who are the other people at the table? You’d have to ask the president of Russia,” Pelosi added. “I’ve been in rooms of a couple hundred people where he has been. I don’t know if you call that a meeting with him.”