Conway: Trump wants an impartial FBI director

Story highlights

  • Conway repeatedly pushed back on the argument that Trump's decision "was about Russia"
  • "President Trump wants an FBI director who is impartial, who's not politicized," she said

(CNN)White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and CNN's "New Day" co-anchor Chris Cuomo sparred Wednesday over the motivation behind President Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

"President Trump wants an FBI director who is impartial, who's not politicized and who has the confidence and trust of people in the bureau, of Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, of the attorney general, of the deputy attorney general who oversees the FBI director and of the President of the United States," Conway said. "And (Comey) had lost that."
Conway reacts to Comey firing (Full Interview)
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Democratic senators sharply criticized Trump's decision to fire Comey on Tuesday, with some calling for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian meddling into the 2016 US election and any connection to Trump's aides.
    But Conway repeatedly pushed back on the argument that Trump's decision "was about Russia," reiterating a point she made Tuesday night on "Anderson Cooper 360."
    "The idea that you think that this was about Russia and not about a FBI director who just yesterday forced his bureau to correct sworn testimony to the Senate judiciary committee, where he said Huma Abedin had this practice, she had forwarded quote 'hundreds of thousands of emails,'" she said — although Comey actually incorrectly testified that Abedin "forwarded hundreds and thousands."
    Cuomo pushed back on the implication that Trump let Comey go because he falsely testified about one of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's top aides.
    "So President Trump was so upset that he fired him," Cuomo replied incredulously.
    Conway insisted that the President's decision was significantly shaped by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's recommendation to terminate Comey.
    "The President took the advice of the deputy attorney general, who oversees the director of the FBI, and brought those concerns to the attorney general, who brought them to the President. And they made a decision to remove him," she said.
    Trump praised Comey repeatedly during the campaign for his handling of the investigation into his Democratic rival's emails, Cuomo noted. The President's previous views of Comey's performance, combined with the timing of his firing and the involvement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- who previously recused himself from the investigation into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign -- attracted outcry from Trump's critics.
    "All this happening just as the Russian investigation is heating up. It seems very connected. Your take," Cuomo said.
    "There is so many conjecture there," Conway replied. "Let me unpack them one at a time. First, you're talking about President Trump on the campaign with respect to Jim Comey. He's the President, and he is faced with new evidence about the way people at the FBI and people from both sides of the aisle and elsewhere feel about Director Comey. You have to have confidence in the impartiality and nonpoliticization of the bureau."
    Conway refuted Democrats' suggestion that Comey's firing was connected to escalating investigations into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election.
    "It's a seven-month distraction," she said.
    "That's what you want it to be," Cuomo shot back. "I get that."
    "No, you want it to be real," Conway said.
    "What I want is the truth," Cuomo replied. "That's all we should all want here."
    CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Kellyanne Conway. She referred to the Senate judiciary committee.