Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that she did not know whether the president had withheld funds from Ukraine until it agreed to investigate his theories into his 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Speaking to fill-in host Dana Bash, Conway was asked about the situation — which sparked the House to launch an impeachment inquiry in late September –when she appeared on CNN’s Sunday show State of the Union with Jake Tapper.
“They have the aid. They’re using the aid,” Conway said when Bash first asked, reading testimony from William Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine that seemed to suggest the president had directed his administration to withhold all security assistance until the nation announced a public investigation into the theories.
“No, but was it being held up at the time not now, then,” Bash repeated.
Conway, who brought President Trump’s 2016 campaign across the finish line as his final campaign manager, then compared the CNN anchor to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff has been a frequent target of the president and House Republicans who have disagreed with the way he has chosen to conduct the inquiry in closed sessions, only allowing members of the three committees conducting the inquiry to attend hearings.
Specifically, Trump has lobbed attacks at Schiff since September for the portrayal of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Schiff has said his portrayal of the call was a parody, and though the president has claimed the Democrat lawmaker’s comments were entirely made up, many of the general statements Schiff made were reflected in a summary transcript of the call released by the White House, per FactCheck.org.
Kellyanne Conway on whether or not military aid was held up because President Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden: "I don't know. But I know they've got their aid" pic.twitter.com/SWqZtqD8D3— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 3, 2019
“So, I think if you’re going to do – respectfully – what Adam Schiff does, which is come out and cherry-pick 10 seconds or 10 minutes of 10 hours worth of testimony, we have no access to the full testimony because everything has been done in the dark in secret,” Conway said. “That process has been flawed from the beginning. We cannot unscramble the egg; we cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube.”
Still, Bash insisted she was speaking generally and insisted Conway answer her questions about whether the president withheld the funds. Conway once again reiterated that Ukraine now has the funds, though Bash again pushed back and said she was talking about then and not now.
“I don’t know,” Conway finally admitted, about a minute and a half after the line of questioning began.
“Here’s what’s absolutely, unimpeachably true,” the former pollster said. “Ukraine has that aid. They have more aid than they had in the previous administration. They’re using the aid.”
Conway insisted that everyone, including CNN and the White House, had been deprived of the testimony from the closed-door hearings, to which Bash said she wasn’t there to debate or defend the impeachment process, which has been targeted by the GOP. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney on Friday sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, demanding that she release transcripts from the hearings.
Pelosi has said she plans to begin holding public hearings sometime later in November.