The Slatest

Watch Kellyanne Conway Struggle to Name a Single High-Level Black Official in White House

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway leaves the East Room after President Donald Trump announced Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court at the White House July 9, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway leaves the East Room after President Donald Trump announced Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court at the White House July 9, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was stumped by a seemingly simple question on Sunday. On ABC, Jonathan Karl asked her to name the “most prominent, high-level adviser on the West Wing staff” now that Omarosa Manigault Newman is no longer working there. Conway was obviously stumped and got very defensive very quickly. Her first instinct was to name Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson. But, of course, he doesn’t actually work in the West Wing.

When Karl kept pushing for a name of someone who is on “the White House staff right now,” all Conway could come up with was someone named “Ja’Ron,” without ever giving his last name. “He’s been very involved with Jared Kushner and President Trump on prison reform,” Conway said. When asked where he worked though, Conway had to admit he doesn’t actually work in the West Wing but rather in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is next to the White House. Former White House aide Marc Short later said on ABC that Conway was referring to Ja’Ron Smith. The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey characterized him as a “mid-level aide.”

That means Conway was unable to name a single black person who works in the West Wing. “What does that say to not have a single senior adviser in the West Wing who’s African-American?” Karl asked. Conway pushed back at the characterization: “I didn’t say that there wasn’t.” When Karl again pressed the question, it was clear Conway couldn’t name anyone. “There—there are plenty of people—if you’re—if you’re—if you’re going by that and not by the actions of the president, which you probably should, then—then you should look at the fact that we have a number of different minorities,” Conway said.

Conway said that in the two years she has worked for Trump, she has “never a single time heard him use a racial slur about anyway.” She made the comment as part of the White House pushback against former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman’s claims in her new book in which she describes Trump as a racist. “I think that Omarosa unfortunately has undercut her own credibility,” Conway said.