CNN host Chris Cuomo confronted Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway for excusing a charity run by the president-elect’s sons with the same arguments that had outraged Republicans when they were used to defend the Clinton foundation.
During a Thursday interview on CNN, Cuomo asked Conway about a venture connected to Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., which had planned to auction off a private reception with the president-elect for donations of $1 million. The charity rescinded the offer this week under pressure from the public.
“I think we should go back and look at what Don Jr. and Eric have done and wanted to continue to do, which is raise money for charities,” Conway said. “The Eric Trump Foundation is 10 years old. It has done enormously great work.”
“It’s the same thing the Clinton people said when they were defending their allegations of pay-for-play,” Cuomo noted. “They were selling off a million dollar trip to hunt with the boys and hang out with the president. That sounds like paying for access.”
“I don’t know how that’s the same as Bill Clinton giving a million dollar speech in Russia and then Hillary Clinton, while secretary of state, turning around and giving 20 percent of the U.S. uranium interests away,” Conway replied.
During the campaign, Trump made a similar claim, saying that Hillary Clinton had approved Russia’s takeover of a company which owned U.S. uranium assets because the Clinton Foundation had received donations from people involved with the deal. Politifact determined that there was no evidence to support the allegations and rated Trump’s claim as mostly false.
Conway also insisted that the charges of pay-for-play against Trump’s family were “very different than William Jefferson Clinton getting the contracts after Haiti suffers a devastating hurricane in 2010.”
“So paying a million dollars to hang out with the president is okay?” Cuomo pressed.
“I didn’t say that,” Conway said after a moment of silence.
“I know, you’re not answering,” Cuomo observed. “You’re going after the Clintons. I’m saying, what’s your answer?”
“You mentioned the Clinton Foundation, you said it’s the same,” Conway shot back. “I’m saying it’s absolutely not the same.”
“You’re giving the same defense that they gave,” the CNN host explained. “When you made the allegations against the Clintons, they said, ‘We do lots of great work. We took these meetings. There’s never been a direct connection between what she did at the [state department] and what was going on at the foundation.’ You’re now saying basically the same thing. ‘Eric Trump does great work with his foundation and paying a lot of money to hang out with the president is okay.'”
Conway, however, pivoted back to the Clinton Foundation and asserted that Eric Trump’s charity was superior because it did not accept donations from countries that don’t “treat women and girls the way that we treat women and girls here.”
“If it’s all okay, why are [Eric and Donald Jr.] backing away?” Cuomo wondered.
“Because they support their father,” Conway declared. “And they know that we’ll never get a fair shake in the Trump administration. And that’s unfortunate. This conversation shows that. To actually compare the two [foundations], the idea that these folks are trying to help people in need and those people are going to suffer now because folks are pointing out what they think to be improprieties.”
“They will always do what they perceive to be the right thing,” the Trump spokesperson concluded. “These are incredibly brilliant, talented young men.”
Watch the video below from CNN, broadcast Dec. 22, 2016.