While denying President Trump is a racist, Kellyanne Conway asks a reporter about his ethnicity

“I'm asking you a question. My ancestors are from Ireland and Italy," Conway told the journalist

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 16, 2019 6:10PM (EDT)

President Donald Trump; Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway (AP/Alex Brandon/)
President Donald Trump; Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway (AP/Alex Brandon/)

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asked a reporter about his ethnicity while she attempt to push back on questions of whether President Donald Trump is a racist after the commander-in-chief doubled down on controversial tweets about four congresswomen of color.

"What's your ethnicity?" Conway asked the reporter after he inquired as to what non-racist message Trump could have possibly intended to convey when he told four liberal Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their supposed countries of origin.

"Why is that relevant to this conversation?" the reporter replied.

"No, no. Because I'm asking you a question. My ancestors are from Ireland and Italy," Conway volunteered.

"Kellyanne, my own ethnicity is not relevant to the question I'm asking you,” the reporter responded before Conway cut him off.

"No, no. It is, because you're asking about — he said, 'originally.' He said, 'originally from.' And you know, everything he has said since and to have a full conversation . . . " Conway replied.

As the reporter asked whether the president was telling "the Palestinian,” a reference to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., to "go back to occupied territory," Conway responded that "the president's already commented on that."

She added, "The president's already commented on that, and he said a lot about this since that one tweet. No, he's put out a lot of tweets. And he made himself available to all of you yesterday."

The reporter pointed out that Conway was ducking a "yes or no" question and claimed Trump had only made himself available to the pool, prompting the White House counselor to clack back.

“He's tired,” she said. “A lot of us are sick and tired of this country — of America coming last to people who swore an oath of office."

Conway's husband, George Conway, has lambasted the president for his racist remarks, writing in a recent Washington Post editorial that they reminded him of racism encountered by his Filipino American mother when he was a child.

"Telling four non-white members of Congress — American citizens all, three natural-born — to 'go back' to the 'countries' they 'originally came from'?" George Conway wrote. "That’s racist to the core. It doesn’t matter what these representatives are for or against — and there’s plenty to criticize them for — it’s beyond the bounds of human decency. For anyone, not least a president."

He also criticized Republican political leaders for not condemning Trump's remarks, arguing that "Trump is not some random, embittered person in a parking lot — he’s the president of the United States. By virtue of his office, he speaks for the country. What’s at stake now is more important than judges or tax cuts or regulations or any policy issue of the day. What’s at stake are the nation’s ideals — its very soul."

In his controversial Saturday tweets, the president wrote that it is "so interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run."

He added, "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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