Former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on Monday defended President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter vendetta against the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” arguing that social media use is “a great way” to “cut through the noise or silence” and that Trump has the right to offer his criticism.
“Why do you care?” Conway said when asked by “New Day” host Chris Cuomo about Trump’s “Hamilton” feud. “Who is to say that he can’t do that, make a comment, spend five minutes on a tweet and making a comment and still be president-elect?”
Conway, a senior adviser to Trump, criticized media coverage of the social media controversy, saying that Trump is “just trying to cut through the nonsense of people telling Americans what is important to them, which we saw through the elections wasn’t true. People constantly being told this issue, this statement, this past transgression is important to you — and Americans said, ‘No, it’s not. What’s important to me is this 100-day plan.'”
“That’s not what he’s tweeting about,” Cuomo said. “He said that ‘Hamilton’ is overrated.”
“That’s his opinion,” Conway shot back. She argued that the focus should be “on what [Trump] did this week as your president-elect, which was unbelievable and I’m going to say unprecedented.”
“So he doesn’t take any responsibility for his own tweets? It’s me focusing on it?” Cuomo asked.
“I didn’t say that,” Conway answered. “But you’re assigning malice and you’re assigning wrongdoing to him where it doesn’t exist. And I think we all should have learned a lesson from the election that that doesn’t fly with voters.”
Asked again why Trump chose to focus on controversy as opposed to tweeting about the issues facing his incoming administration, Conway pushed back.
“He’s not focusing on divisions,” she said. “This network and other people will always be focused on his divisions. How about accepting the election results, and letting him form a government?”
“How have we not done that?” Cuomo replied.
The Trump aide proceeded to discuss potential cabinet appointments, praising the list of contenders for various roles as a “diverse group of people who come from many different backgrounds.”
But Conway grew defensive when pressed on the qualifications of Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was tapped for the Attorney General post, and whose failed confirmation as a federal judge in 1986 due to allegations of racism has loomed over his upcoming Senate confirmation.
She defended Sessions’ resume and pointed to his work as the attorney general of Alabama and his vote to confirm Eric Holder as President Barack Obama’s first attorney general, while noting the historic significant of Holder’s role as the first African American to hold the position.
“Look at the full measure of the man, and I know people who don’t want to respect the election results,” Conway said. She said that if Sessions was so unqualified for office, “why didn’t Democrats put anybody up against him the last time he ran [for Senate] in 2014?”
“If you’re against him, be the sacrificial lamb. Say I’m going to stop this guy because of who he is. They couldn’t do it. Because they know who he is,” she said.
“They’re looking at the full record. He’s been a United States Senator for 20 years. He was a law enforcement officer before that. He is incredibly qualified. Look, the criteria for any of these posts, Chris, number one, are you qualified and doing the job on day one? And secondly, are you loyal to the agenda that the president-elect has put forward as his vision?”
Later, Conway offered some subtle praise for another cabinet contender — former rival Mitt Romney, in contention to be named Secretary of State — hinting that his weekend meeting with Trump could herald a more productive relationship.
“A lot of what Mitt Romney said about the world when he ran against President Obama has come true,” she said. “He knows an awful lot about the world.”
“I thought it was very, gracious,” she said of the meeting. “It’s a very, very small class of people who have run as the presidential nominees of their party, and there are two of them, and they are also both successful job creators, which is very rare in politics.