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- Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway struggled Sunday to name the most prominent African-American staffers in the White House.
- She only mentioned the first name of a staffer before criticizing the media’s coverage of the administration’s policies that are focused on minority populations.
- There has been a renewed spotlight on the Trump administration’s dealings with race ahead of the anniversary of the clash in Charlottesville between white nationalists and protestors, and amid allegations Trump used a racial slur in an upcoming tell-all memoir from a former White House adviser.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway struggled Sunday to name prominent African-American staffers who work in President Donald Trump’s White House.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week”, host Jon Karl asked Conway for the name of any top African-American staffer since White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman’s departure last year.
Conway pointed to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, but Karl pressed her to name someone who works in the White House.
“Who now is that person?” Karl asked. “Who is the most prominent, high-level adviser to president on the West Wing staff right now?”
“We have Ja’Ron,” Conway said, not including a last name.
Former White House aide Marc Short appeared on ABC after Conway and identified the staffer as Ja’Ron Smith, who he said works in the East Wing. Smith’s LinkedIn profile lists his title as Director of Urban Affairs and Revitalization.
“(He’s) done a fabulous job and … he’s been very involved with Jared Kushner and President Trump on prison reform. He’s been there from the beginning,” Conway said, adding that he works in an office in the Executive Office Building.
“But not in the West Wing,” Karl said. “What does that say to have not a single senior advisor in the West Wing who’s African American?”
“I didn’t say that there wasn’t, but hold on,” Conway said, as Karl pressed again for a name. “There are plenty of people.”
"Omarosa was the most prominent, high-level African-American serving in the West Wing on Pres. Trump's staff. Who now is that person?" @jonkarl asks Kellyanne Conway.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 12, 2018
Conway then shifted focus, saying the administration’s valuing of minorities can be seen in “the actions of the president,” and that the staff has “a number of different minorities.”
Earlier in her appearance, Conway addressed an upcoming tell-all memoir by former White House adviser Omarosa Manigualt Newman that reportedly contains allegations Trump frequently used racial slurs to describe African-Americans during his years hosting “The Apprentice.”
Conway said the allegations that Trump is a racist were only good for “selling books.”
The Trump administration’s dealings with racial tensions have been subject to scrutiny in the midst of the one-year anniversary of a violent clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia that started over the removal of a Confederate statue.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson said Trump’s rhetoric and policies, including his comment that some African nations are “shithole countries” and his longtime expressions of doubt over former President Barack Obama’s birthplace, clearly portray him as a “racist.”
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told CBS Trump’s fumble in not addressing white nationalists’ actions following last year’s rally “stoked division” among Americans and were “every bit as morally bad as holding views that are that are bigoted or racist.”
Trump tweeted Saturday ahead of the rally to wish peace and unity among Americans.
“The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division,” he wrote. “We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”
Watch Conway’s full interview below: