Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, sat down for an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday to talk about the state of the campaign. It got a little weird. Using Genius, I annotated it. You can too! Sign up for Genius and annotate alongside me! To see an annotation, click or tap the highlighted part of the transcript.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And out front now, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.
Kellyanne, thank you so much for being with me. I want to give you a chance to react to this news that Jamie just was breaking, former President George H.W. Bush says he will vote for Hillary Clinton.
That, of course, is not just not voting for Donald Trump, it is voting for Hillary Clinton. What is your response to that?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I respect the 92-year-old former president very much and his decision. And I think that Americans are very grateful to the Bush family for their public service. That is his right.
It is ironic that he would vote for the wife of the man who knocked him out of the race, Bill Clinton defeated George Herbert Walker Bush, Bush 41, Erin, in 1992, for his reelection.
But look, this was a bruising primary, and Jeb Bush really failed all expectations that he would be the “electable,” the predominant person on the stage. I mean, he lasted through South Carolina. Got out of the race before March 1st.
So I know there are a lot of hurt feelings there. That is his right. I think what’s most disturbing about this report to me, Erin, is that someone divulged a private conversation. It doesn’t seem it was meant for public consumption and that is always very bothersome to me.
BURNETT: Originally saying it to, obviously a member of the Kennedy family at a private gathering. As you point out, he has, of course, since come out and said it and is — you know, said to Jamie. But, yes, fair point, it was originally meant to be private.
I want to ask you, Kellyanne, about the another story that is breaking tonight. This is The Washington Post report, reporting that Trump may have violated laws against self-dealing through his foundation.
And I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read it. But they lay out several donations that he made to charities in order to settle lawsuits. One of them involved Mar-a-Lago. It was a $100,000 donation to a veterans charity, and to settle fines that Mar-a-Lago owed Palm Beach over some sort of a dispute about a flagpole.
Of course, it is illegal to use a charity’s money to benefit yourself or your businesses. Are you concerned at all that Trump may have broken the law?
CONWAY: No. And I would point out in the second paragraph of that story that you mention, Erin, it says “may have,” and later on in the story it says the IRS may want to look into it. But of course they haven’t.
And let’s just go back. I think this is classic Donald Trump. He wanted to raise the American flag as high as he possibly could over Mar-a-Lago. I think a lot of Americans at this point would applaud that.
And, of course, the county said he couldn’t do it. It had to be smaller. So they started assessing a $1,250-a-day fine. So the way that they “settled it” was for Mr. Trump to donate $100,000 to a veterans group. I don’t want that to be lost here.
And so the money went to veterans. You know, the Trump Foundation started out with Mr. Trump’s money. He was its sole owner for a very long time. And I want to point out to you that the Trump Foundation has no permanent, no paid staff, no overhead, no one from the Trump family takes a penny as a salary or as benefits.
Contrast that to, as we know, the slush fund otherwise known as the Clinton Foundation. As we speak they have their international donor fly in so that they can pick up all kinds of foreign cash to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly.
So I think there is absolutely no comparison between these two foundations, especially when you think about Hillary Clinton being a public servant, secretary of state, while the Clinton Foundation was doing a lot of its cash collecting.
I know when they left the white house they were quote, “dead broke.” But, boy, are they worth a quarter of a billion dollars now. And it is no coincidence that it went along with the Clinton Foundation and her time in the State Department.
BURNETT: So let me ask you a couple of questions that you raise there, because you mention The Post saying “may have,” and you are right, it does say “may have.” It goes on though to quote a lawyer, Jeffrey Tenenbaum, who advises 700 non-profits annually on taxes, and his quote was “I’ve never encountered anything so brazen.” Saying “it’s as blatant an example of self-dealing as I have seen in a while.”
Again, referring to that Mar-a-Lago example. There was another one with a golf course as well to settle a dispute. A donation was given from the foundation to charity.
Can you categorically say there was no self-dealing? Or at this point are you not sure?
CONWAY: Well, I’ve been talking to the people who are responsible for the Trump Foundation today, trying to get some facts and some figures. And so I know this is all developing. We need to gather information.
But let me tell you something. It is very important for people to understand what happened in these cases. Donations went to veterans groups. Donations went to another person’s foundation, in another instance. The idea that the money went for — when people hear self-dealing, Erin, you know what they think of immediately, that it’s going or plane rides and fancy hotels and expensive meals and certainly salaries and overhead.
Again, that sounds to me like the Clinton Foundation where a report this weekend said about 6 percent of their money got to charities. A lot of it was wasted in overhead. That is not the case here.
CONWAY: … Clinton Foundation.
BURNETT: Kellyanne, to the point, though, it was the Trump Foundation and if this was settling a lawsuit that enabled Donald Trump’s business to benefit, whether it be Mar-a-Lago or a golf course, that would possibly then be self-dealing.
CONWAY: I’m sorry, how did his golf course benefit from him redirecting moneys that mistakenly came to the Trump foundation? He redirected them to someone else’s private foundation based on a hole-in-one contest.
They were misdirected to his foundation, I’m told, by his accountants and attorneys. They went to the right foundation after that. How in the world did his business benefit from that? How did Mar-a-Lago benefit from him giving $100,000 to veterans. The veterans benefit. And I think that is great. I applaud him for doing that.
BURNETT: Well, the business, of course, benefitted by the lawsuit going away, being settled, right? That would be how the business benefitted.
CONWAY: Well, there are man lawsuits every day against people. That’s — I think that is a bridge too far. I think you are making things up based on facts as they are not reported in this story which also uses a lot of conditional phrasing, I would like to point out.
But look, foundations exist to help charities, to help those in need. And Mr. Trump has been incredibly generous throughout his career. I’m up in his office here in Trump Tower routinely when he is writing — he is signing checks privately to help people that isn’t even part of the foundation.
I mean, can you imagine? I know you can imagine, Erin. You can only imagine how many people have asked Mr. Trump for his time and his resources and his connections and his money privately. And he does that.
He doesn’t have cameras in there. It doesn’t go through foundations. And by the way, everybody should also note that foundation disbursements, as you know under federal law, are all a matter of public record. That is how this Washington Post reporter who seems a little obsessed with Donald Trump these days, that’s how he got this information in the first place.
BURNETT: So, but you mention private…
CONWAY: So it’s all a matter of public record.
BURNETT: Yes, it is a matter of public record when it comes to the foundation, and you mention that he writes private checks. Obviously part of the issue here, for some people, is that Trump has not donated to his own foundation since 2009. He did up to that point and then he no longer did.
CONWAY: For decades. For decades. For decades, Erin.
BURNETT: But since 2009 — OK.
CONWAY: This foundation started in 1987. Let’s be fair here. If we’re going to throw words and figures around, let’s be fair to Mr. Trump. The foundation, as I understand it, started in about 1987. For a very long time Donald Trump was the only donor to the foundation.
I mean, people think that there is no history before 2009. Let’s be fair to him. And you say that some people think this is an issue. I don’t see it in a CNN poll anywhere. I see jobs, economy, terrorism, health care, immigration.
I mean, good lord, just down the street from us right here we had this terrorist — this radical Islamic terrorist whose ex-wife says he hates gay, he hates America, tried to kill people. Thank God he didn’t.
But he certainly scared a whole heck of a lot of us, and he certainly injured many people who have our prayers and condolences — our prayers here at the Trump campaign.
So I do want to talk about the issues that Americans are talking about but this isn’t on the list.
BURNETT: I would say, Kellyanne, one thing though, of course, when you talk about those private checks and private donations, everybody would know what they were, there would be no issues if he just put out his personal taxes, because that’s where all of that would show up.
So that’s the only thing I would say on that, is all that would be out there for everybody and quiet perhaps some of this, which I will say I do believe is a real issue, to have full financial transparency. And I said that with Mitt Romney as well.
CONWAY: Well, one thing — I can tell you one — well, one thing that you wouldn’t see in his tax returns, Erin, is $16.5 million for some advisory position at Laureate University that Bill Clinton gets. You wouldn’t see $21.5 million for 92 speeches that Hillary Clinton gave. She gives speeches for free now, nobody seems to want to listen to them.
She doesn’t get these rally crowds that Donald Trump gets anywhere. So I think if we’re going to use foundations as an issue, we actually — that would be great if actually people want to do some fair, even-handed reporting about the foundations at work here.
Because the Clintons are very involved in their foundation. Seem to have financially benefitted. Seem to have used through the foundation to help, not to have necessarily the victims of the earthquake in Haiti get all the money they were expecting, but certainly to help their friends and allies and colleagues get special favors and be granted access, yes, at the State Department. That has been made very clear through some emails. But also around the world.
BURNETT: So, Kellyanne, I want to get you on the record about another news story out there today. Of course, the tweet from Donald Trump Jr. He tweeted a graphic yesterday that likened Syrian refugees to Skittles.
The tweet was “this image says it all, let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first. Trump 2016.” And then the graphic said: “If I had a bowl of Skittles and had told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That is our Syrian refuge problem.”
Now obviously he got a lot of criticism for that. Mars Candy, who owns Skittles, actually put a statement out saying “Skittles are candy, refugees are people, we don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy.”
Look, Kellyanne, I know that you and the campaign have an issue with the lack of vetting that’s possible with a lot of Syrian refugees, with the increase in Syrian refugees, but do you believe that this analogy specifically was appropriate?
CONWAY: Well, the analogy was not — I don’t think it is as you just characterized it. But what I do think, what we do know is that many Americans are very concerned with the lack of vetting that is going on.
We see what’s happening all across Europe, Erin. The lack of vetting there and just sort of sure, just come on over, that has been a disaster. I mean, many women have been raped and you know that there has been — look at Germany. Look at the problems in France.
And, of course, you know, it’s really a shame to those refuges who want to come here through the regular channels and who are law-abiding peaceful people, which, of course, is most of them. It’s a shame that people are resisting vetting programs that would actually just keep out those who want to do us harm.
The idea that Hillary Clinton’s plan wants to increase Syrian refuges by 550 percent is very concerning to many Americans. They know what has happened. They know there’s home-grown terrorism here.
They know people are coming into our country like in San Bernardino. And they know that they are being radicalized. They come here on fiancee visas. They killed 14 innocent coworkers whose biggest crime was giving them a baby or a bridal shower at work, and going to a Christmas party?
So people aren’t blind. They know — they want to have a country where people who are coming in are known to our authorities, those who are in charge of this. And we have to start giving our local law enforcement and our federal authorities the tools they need.
Many of them tell us, tell Mr. Trump and our campaign all the time they feel very hamstrung. They feel like they can’t do their job. So careful vetting of countries that are, again, where there aren’t — there is not vetting going on now, where we don’t have strict vetting processes at all, and which have a history of terror or exploiting terror I think is incredibly important.
It matches up with what many people are saying. As Mr. Trump has said just this week twice on the campaign trail because he actually does rallies with people, not fundraisers with donors only, he has said immigration security is national security.
That is actually a phrase that resonates with many Americans.
BURNETT: So, Kellyanne, I want to ask you about something with Donald Trump. You know, he was very, very critical of Hillary Clinton not taking reporter questions. As were we at CNN. That has a changed in recent days. And Trump himself has actually not held a formal press conference in 55 days. The last formal one was on July 27th.
Will he do it again? Will he start having press conferences? Hillary Clinton — I mean, just to be fair, at this point, is now doing this almost every day.
CONWAY: Well, when Hillary Clinton is in front of the press, she has got the press asking her these — they might as well just ask her, lovely blouse, where did you get it today, Mrs. Clinton?
I mean, some of these questions are not journalism. Some of them are just — it’s great to see you, do you think this is will hurt Donald Trump because he — I mean, did you see this question from a Bloomberg reporter yesterday?
And so, you know, she also gets words like bombing scrubbed from any — you know, I watched CNN all weekend and what are they saying? Donald Trump called it a bomb before it was a bomb. It was a bomb.
And very few people were mentioning from a journalistic point of view that Hillary Clinton had also said the bombings or the bombing.
BURNETT: But, again, the question, Kellyanne, is, is he going to take questions?
CONWAY: CNN added it to…
BURNETT: Is he going to take questions?
CONWAY: Well, sure, he’ll take questions. But, Erin, we’re very — listen, Erin, I have to respectfully disagree because Mr. Trump is out there, we have the press pool with us every day. He is in public places at rallies with voters. Not at fundraisers where the cameras are not allowed like which does constantly.
And the press is right there to cover everything. And you know what, they really do. A lot of the people who travel with us don’t give us a the positive tweet, don’t give us positive stories. Are they not there yesterday in Fort Myers where I was with Mr. Trump?
There were 10,000 people inside and we had 31,000 RSVPs for a place that only held 8,500 people. I mean, it is just incredible. We don’t get these stories from the whole press pool. So, sure, maybe he’ll take a question here and there, but you know what, he gives press availability every day by doing these rallies in these swing states where he is every single day and they are there with him.
We don’t get fair questions. Just last night CNN added in the word “racial” that he never mentioned with profiling. Your network added in “racial” to make it look like he had said racial profiling where he never had.
BURNETT: So, Kellyanne, I want to interrupt you there.
CONWAY: I’m answering your questions right now.
BURNETT: I want to interrupt you there because that was a “lower third,” as we call them, on our screen. It actually happened during this hour, and I want to make it clear the word “racial” should not have been put in quotes.
CONWAY: Thank you.
BURNETT: But I want to ask you something about this though. Because a lot of other people were happy to describe it as racial profiling without putting quotation marks around it because Donald Trump continually does speak about profiling related to Muslims.
So if it isn’t racial, what specific profiling is he talking about?
CONWAY: Well, how about a profiling where just, hypothetically speaking, a man who then has pressure cooker bombs in New Jersey and New York’s father tells the FBI or tells authorities, my son is a terrorist, and then they drop it.
They don’t investigate it. He’s not on a watch list.
BURNETT: Well, he did recant, he did recant, just to be clear.
CONWAY: OK. The father recanted. Did they look in this man’s journals when he was caught yesterday sleeping in a bar in the middle of the morning, and the authorities caught him. We just are so impressed with law enforcement.
We, in this campaign, can’t show enough love and respect and gratitude towards our law enforcement. And you saw it on display again yesterday. You saw it on display again yesterday, law enforcement in Linden, New Jersey, capturing this criminal.
And what was in his journals? They found anti-American, pro-ISIS stuff in his journals I read in the paper today. He had been to Afghanistan. His wife — or his ex-wife said he hates gays. He hates America.
He is a terrorist. His father said he was a terrorist. I mean, if the FBI is — if our authorities are going look the other way, then at least we have a presidential candidate who is telling the Americans who say, I’m so tired of looking the other way.
We don’t have a vetting process. We don’t have borders. We have people just so worried about political correctness that this — look what this did the other night. People were injured.
BURNETT: OK. So but this issue of profiling and whether it is racial, ethnic, religious, all of them, coming under the same umbrella.
CONWAY: He didn’t say that.
BURNETT: But let me ask you, because it’s not just what you would probably call the mainstream media that is saying this and having these questions. OK, it has come up on FOX News several times where they have interpreted this and asked these questions in similar ways.
Trump many times has indicated that he supports profiling based on ethnicity. Let me just play so you can hear it, Kellyanne.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O’REILLY, HOST, “THE O’REILLY FACTOR”: You know, another thing you said that was very controversial is that you want to profile. You want to profile Arab or Muslim men. How would that work?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we have no choice. Look, Israel does it. And Israel does it very successfully.
In San Bernardino they saw bombs laying around the apartment. People saw it. And they wanted to be — they called it racial profiling. We didn’t want to call in because of racial profiling. In other words a lawyer got to them and said, you got a problem here. You knew this was — say racial profiling.
But look, whether it’s racial profiling or politically correct, we better get smart. We are letting tens of thousands of people into our country. We don’t know what the hell we’re doing.
I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK? If that’s OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Kellyanne, if it isn’t religious, if it isn’t ethnic, if it isn’t racial, what is it?
CONWAY: It’s based on what he just said, which is, look at San Bernardino. Let’s use an actual real-world example instead of hypotheticals here. In the real world San Bernardino happened. There are 14 families who will always feel grief because people looked the other way.
You saw all the reports afterwards, CNN went right out there. And you had people saying, yes, I thought it was kind of weird, or I saw bomb-making devices or whatever they had said at the time.
It wasn’t like if they were just hanging around my house or your house, Erin, and saying, or, frankly, all the peaceful people of many different ethnic backgrounds, in saying, gee, I didn’t see bomb-making materials.
I mean, the idea that people feel that they have got a reason to be suspicious and don’t feel comfortable to say that. I mean, I talked to Mayor Giuliani about this. We used to have police officers were able to patrol certain places of worship based on reasonable suspicion. And that has just all gone away.
And so, again, we — I just want to say that we in this country — Mr. Trump’s message is that we in this country, if we’re going to have a country, it would be nice too know who is here and why they’re here.
And in the case of this guy Ahmad Khan Rahami in Linden, New Jersey, he had been to Afghanistan and his wife said he came back hating America, hating gay, being so angry. His father called him a terrorist.
I mean, if this doesn’t raise suspicion among law enforcement, what in the world will? How many more people have to die or be afraid or be injured in Chelsea, New York, Erin, for us to wake up?
BURNETT: All right. Kellyanne, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.
BURNETT: The campaign manager, as we said, Kellyanne Conway, for Donald Trump.