Kellyanne Conway on Sunday defended President-elect Donald Trump’s response to the confirmation from intelligence officials that Russia worked to influence the 2016 election in favor of Mr. Trump, saying the stories are just an attempt to “relitigate” the results from Election Day.
Mr. Trump “thinks people are trying to relitigate the election,” Conway told CBS’ “Face the Nation,” “...First it was [FBI Director] Jim Comey’s fault. Then we’re going to have a recount. Then it’s the alt-right’s fault. Now it’s Russian interference.”
Conway’s comments follow reports in the Washington Post and other news outlets -- and confirmed by CBS News -- that intelligence officials believe Russia not only worked to cause chaos in the U.S. election, but was specifically working to promote Mr. Trump.
She echoed Mr. Trump’s comments about the story: in an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” he said new revelations about Russia’s influence on his behalf are “ridiculous.”
“It’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it,” Trump said. “… Every week it’s another excuse. We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College.”
Conway called for a “peaceful transition,” and suggested those unhappy with the election result look at President Obama’s actions as a guide.
“I want to tell everybody, take the cues and the clues from President Obama himself who has not just congratulated Donald Trump as the new president but conceded to him,” she said. (Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, not Mr. Obama, formally conceded the election to Mr. Trump.)
Conway added that Mr. Obama and his administration are “there to support this peaceful transition into democracy and I just believe unfounded accusations like this really undercut that.”
Conway said Mr. Trump would allow a congressional investigation into the matter to proceed, reassuring that he “would not interfere in the legislative branch in that way” -- but also said Mr. Trump has “made very clear” his views on the subject of Russian interference.
Conway also worked to square Mr. Trump’s comments on the Russia issue with his overall feelings toward the intelligence community: in the wake of the stories this weekend, the Trump transition team released a statement blasting the intelligence community as “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
“He absolutely respects the intelligence community. He’s made clear he’s going to put his own people in there as well,” Conway said. “What he’s said is laughable and ridiculous is this entire notion … that somehow this was meant to defeat Hillary Clinton and elevate him to the presidency. Its untrue and it’s also unfair.”
She also defended his decision to receive the president’s highly classified intelligence briefings just once a week, as opposed to daily as his recent predecessors have done, and noted she and other top-level advisers are not included in those briefings.
“He appreciates these briefings but let me make very clear that even me as a close adviser and many others with whom you’ll be speaking about do not have access to those top secret briefings,” she said. “We don’t have that type of clearance nor should we. So … he is not divulging the information he has, nor should he.”