White House counselor Kellyanne Conway attempted to defend President Donald Trump’s racist Twitter rant against progressive Democratic congresswomen by asking a reporter his ethnicity.
At a press gaggle outside the White House on Tuesday, Breakfast Media reporter Andrew Feinberg asked Conway about Trump’s comments over the weekend, in which he said the representatives should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Conway responded: “What’s your ethnicity?”
When Feinberg pushed back on that question, she responded, “I’m asking you a question. My ancestors are from Ireland and Italy,” and went on to insist that the question was relevant.
“No, it is [relevant] because you’re asking about ... [Trump] said ‘originally.’ He said ‘originally from.’ And you know everything he has said since, and to have a full conversation,” argued Conway.
Trump didn’t use the word “originally” in his tweet and did not name the congresswomen, though from context he was almost certainly referring to Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, all women of color.
After the exchange, Feinberg tweeted he identifies as a mix of Russian, Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian and that Conway’s question “inadvertently confirmed that [Trump] was telling [the congresswomen] to return to Somalia, Gaza, Puerto Rico, and somewhere in Africa.”
Feinberg reiterated the sentiment of his tweets to HuffPost, saying he found the exchange “bizarre.”
“As I told her, my own family’s ethnic background wasn’t relevant, but I’m glad she was able to confirm that President Trump was suggesting that the three American-born congresswomen in question could return to the places their ancestors came from (and Rep. Omar could return to Somalia) if they disagree with his administration’s policies,” he said.
Conway later tweeted that she meant “no disrespect” and that she is proud of her own ethnicity and “love[s] the USA & grateful to God to be an American.”
Also on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his hateful rhetoric against the congresswomen of color, accusing them of being “pro-terrorist” and “anti-USA” in another round of tweets.
In addition to appearing in front of reporters outside the White House, Conway went on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” to back Trump. She said the congresswomen represent a “dark underbelly in this country” and that some lawmakers are “palling around with terrorists.”
This story has been updated with a tweet from Conway.