Kellyanne Conway says ‘there was no pressure applied’ to Ukraine

Kellyanne Conway says ‘there was no pressure applied’ to Ukraine


JUDY WOODRUFF: As we have been discussing,
the Trump administration was quick today to push back on Ambassador Sondland’s claim that
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and White House acting Chief
of Staff Mick Mulvaney, among others, were all aware of the ambassador’s efforts to get
Ukraine to open an investigation into the Bidens, an inquiry Sondland acknowledged would
ultimately benefit President Trump. Kellyanne Conway is the counselor to the president. And she joins us now from the White House. Kellyanne Conway, so many questions to ask
you about today, but my first question is this. We heard the president say this afternoon
he was asking nothing of Ukraine. If that’s the case, why was the aid held up
for several months? Why was a meeting with the president held
up? KELLYANNE CONWAY, Counselor to President Trump:
Well, the one thing that the president was asking was for President Zelensky to deliver
on what he had run on successfully, which is to root out corruption. And we have all read the July 25 call transcript,
Judy, where both presidents are discussing — discussing draining the swamp in their
respective countries. They’re discussing rooting out corruption. They’re discussing how that’s been a problem
in Ukraine. And remember that President Zelensky ran successfully
in Ukraine on an anti-corruption platform. JUDY WOODRUFF: But my question was… KELLYANNE CONWAY: So, President Trump agrees
with the Ukrainian voters that this is the problem in Ukraine. So, the aid — they got the aid without a
meeting. They got — they got the meeting without a
statement. They got the aid without a condition. And a couple of things Ambassador Sondland
today said were critically important. He said he doesn’t — he never heard that
there — the aid was conditioned on anything, that when he called President Trump, the president
said many times, no quid pro quo. I just want President Zelensky to say what
he said he was going to do. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something
else, though, that Ambassador Sondland said. He said he didn’t want to work with Rudy Giuliani,
but he said President Trump expressly directed him to do that. Why did the president want him to work with
his personal attorney? KELLYANNE CONWAY: I don’t know what conversation
the president had with Ambassador Sondland. But I will tell you that — that Ambassador
Sondland very said — very clearly said today — and I quote him — President Trump never
told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Giuliani
was that Burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meeting. Quote: “The aid was my — my own personal,
you know, guess.” And so, to the extent the president ever asked
Ambassador Sondland to work with Rudy Giuliani — and I can’t confirm or deny that, because
I’m not sure — it was never to get them to condition the aid on anything. And, in fact, if people care about Ukraine,
then they should be thrilled that President Trump has given them nearly $400 million in
military assistance, including… JUDY WOODRUFF: But that… KELLYANNE CONWAY: … including cyber-rifles,
including Javelins, and other aid to help them fight against Russia and other threats. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as we know, that aid came
later than others in the administration were — were saying that it should be. But just to be clear, Kellyanne Conway, we
did hear from Ambassador Sondland that there was a clear quid quo pro from Rudy Giuliani,
reflecting the president’s wishes, that there not be a White House meeting until there was
an investigation of the Bidens, 2016, the DNC server and so on. KELLYANNE CONWAY: But the — I’m sorry, but
the meeting — other people are in my ear, Judy. I apologize. But the meeting happened without a statement. The meeting happened for the whole world to
see up at the United Nations General Assembly in September, in that same month. And I think what’s incredibly important for
your viewers to know is that both the president of the United States and the president of
Ukraine and their top diplomats have said there was no pressure applied. The aid was delivered. They didn’t know the aid was being held up. I mean, all this is critically important. I think this is why you see the polling going
in the wrong direction for the Democrats, who insist on this impeachment inquiry. The poll released yesterday by Morning Consult
clearly said that independents have a — have gone down 10 percent in terms of approving
of the impeachment. There’s a reason for that. They’re tuning in, and they can’t understand
what’s happening. Why all these hours of testimony? What are we trying to prove? JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me. Let me ask you about a couple of other things. And I will try to do this quickly. Is the president still seeking an investigation
by Ukraine into Hunter Biden and his role in Burisma, into what happened in Ukraine
in that regard? KELLYANNE CONWAY: Remember, the president
is — is seeking investigations into corruption. So, if anybody was corrupt, or if their company
was corrupt, then they may have something to worry about. But he’s seeking investigations into corruption. Ambassador Sondland testified today — quote
— he has no recollection of discussing Biden, Vice President Biden, or his son on that famous
July 26 call that Ambassador Sondland also said did not discuss any classified information
and did not strike him as significant at the time. Why is that important tonight? Because the State Department aide who says
he overheard such call on July 26 is testifying tomorrow. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. KELLYANNE CONWAY: But, today, the man who
was on the call with the president said that the president never mentioned Vice President
Biden or his son during that call — quote — “or after the call ended.” (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sorry to interrupt. But you’re saying the president is still interested
in knowing anything about Hunter Biden and Burisma? Is that right? KELLYANNE CONWAY: He is still — he is still
interested in knowing about corruption. And if Burisma is part of that corruption,
then whoever the board members are or were need to be held to account. JUDY WOODRUFF: What… KELLYANNE CONWAY: We can’t inoculate Joe Biden
and his son because Joe Biden’s running for president now. That’s beside the point. This happened when Vice President Biden had
Ukraine in his portfolio as vice president. This all occurred in 2015 or ’16. JUDY WOODRUFF: Can you say today what future
military aid for Ukraine will be conditioned on? KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, it will be — I could
say that the future military aid while President Trump is in office will be robust and much
more than they got from the previous administration. And, Judy, I think that’s incredibly important,
because you heard especially yesterday and last week people who are Ukrainian experts
or people who want to make sure Ukraine policy vis-a-vis the U.S. is well-resourced, is well-respected. They should be thrilled that President Trump
is in office, then, because the aid not only got there, but it’s far more and far more
important to the Ukraine than the aid they got in the previous administration. So I can tell you that, that the aid will
continue. But we’re watching. JUDY WOODRUFF: And — and… KELLYANNE CONWAY: We think it’s very important
that this aid, that President Zelensky made good on his promise to be an anti-corruption
fighter. JUDY WOODRUFF: The White House put out statements
yesterday that were critical of Alexander Vindman, who, of course, the colonel who is
detailed to the National Security Council. Is his job secure? And is the job of Ambassador Sondland secure? We know there were critical statements made
about what he said today by the administration. KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, those are both — they’re
both people who still work for the administration. And I will say that Ambassador O’Brien, the
new head of the National Security Council here, has stated publicly that he will try
to shrink what he sees to be a bloated staff here at the National Security Council. I will leave that up to him and his boss,
the president of the United States, the commander in chief. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you — so, you… KELLYANNE CONWAY: But I will — but I will
tell that I have not — I have never and I would never question the patriotism of Lieutenant
Colonel Vindman. I don’t know him, but I would not question
his patriotism. What I do question overall in these hearings
is why we have people testifying for hours and hours and hours, Judy, who have never
met the president, who have never had a conversation about his policies in Ukraine, because their
view of Ukrainian policy is only important insofar as they are executing on the president’s
agenda. He sets the policy, our foreign policy, our
national security interests. JUDY WOODRUFF: And… KELLYANNE CONWAY: And people’s assumptions,
inferences, interpretations, conjecture, insinuations, those are not important. The facts matter. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just… KELLYANNE CONWAY: The fact is, Ukraine got
its aid. JUDY WOODRUFF: So very, very quickly, so you’re
— you’re not saying that his job is secure, that he may be part of this downsizing you
mentioned at the NSC? KELLYANNE CONWAY: No, I don’t know. I don’t know. JUDY WOODRUFF: You don’t know. I understand. KELLYANNE CONWAY: But I don’t know who — I
don’t know who will stay and who will — and who will go, but it certainly will have nothing
to do with his testimony. He was here at work today. He and his twin brother were taking selfies. (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: And… (CROSSTALK) KELLYANNE CONWAY: … news reporter tweeted
out a picture of them. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, very quickly,
still the posture of the White House that individuals like the White House acting chief
of staff, the secretary of state should not cooperate, should not testify? KELLYANNE CONWAY: Our White House counsel
said in an October 8 letter, Judy, that this is an unconstitutional, an illegal proceeding,
and that we don’t feel we should comply with it. And the other reason is that, in this country,
even in — even in a circus-like hearing that you’re seeing in front of you, which is not
rooted in the rule of law, you don’t have to testify to prove that you’re innocent. That’s not the way this works. Look, I think, if it ever gets to the Senate,
you will see a real trial, and it will be more familiar to the American people, who
are accustomed to trials, who can look at that and say, OK, now I get it, witnesses,
evidence. The president of the United States can’t even
have his own attorney in these hearings. That strikes a lot of Americans as unfair. And I think that’s why you’re seeing the polls
go against approval of this impeachment inquiry. JUDY WOODRUFF: It would be different in the
Senate. Kellyanne Conway at the White House, we thank
you. KELLYANNE CONWAY: Thank you, Judy.

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