Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday that it is “inappropriate” for the media to question the timing of President Donald Trump’s hiring and firing decisions in the executive branch.
In a contentious interview Wednesday morning on CNN’s “New Day,” Conway chafed at a question from anchor Chris Cuomo as to why Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey without an immediate replacement in mind to head up the bureau. Conway told Cuomo that “you don’t know that” there is not a replacement lined up, but would not discuss the issue any further.
“When are you going to announce the new director, if you have somebody lined up?” Cuomo asked the counselor to the president, to which she replied “that’s up to the president of the United States.”
“But does he have somebody?” Cuomo followed up.
“Chris, I’m not going to answer that question because the president of the United States confers with his team on any number of personnel decisions and it’s up to him to have the timing,” Conway said. “You know, you want to question the timing of when he fires, when he hires. It’s inappropriate. He’ll do it when he wants to, just like he fired FBI director Comey when he was faced with evidence that was unignorable now.”
Conway’s comment was reminiscent of remarks made by White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller last February, who defended Trump’s executive order banning individuals from certain majority-Muslim nations from entering the U.S. In a wave of interviews across multiple Sunday morning political talk shows, Miller said “the president’s powers here are beyond question” and “the powers of the President to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”
Trump’s decision to fire Comey, according to the White House, was based on the former director’s handling of the bureau’s investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
The firing marks a dramatic shift for Trump, who seemingly took great delight on the campaign trail in hammering Clinton with the FBI’s investigation into her email practices and praised Comey’s decision to publicly announce with days to go before the election that the bureau was examining potentially fresh evidence related to the case. Trump said Comey’s announcement “took a lot of guts.”
Despite what the White House has offered as the reasoning for Comey’s firing, the dismissal has elevated concerns about the impartiality of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s campaign of cyberattacks targeting last year’s election as well as possible ties between the Russian government and individuals with ties to the president and his campaign.
Lawmakers from both parties have renewed calls for an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election and any connections between Trump associates and the Kremlin, demands that the White House and some Republicans have dismissed.