Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Donald Trump, struggled on Sunday to name an African-American person in a prominent White House role.
Conway was asked on ABC’s “This Week” to name the most prominent West Wing staffer to Trump after the departure of Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former Apprentice star whose departure from the White House was announced late last year.
Conway initially said the anchor, Jon Karl, was “not covering” Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, whom she said Trump works with “every day,” but when pressed on a White House staffer, she pointed to someone who she said was in the Executive Office of the President.
“We have Ja’Ron, who’s done a fabulous job, been very involved with – he’s been very involved with Jared Kushner and President Trump on prison reform from the beginning,” Conway said. “He’s been there from the beginning. He worked with Omarosa and others.”
Conway was presumably referring to Ja’Ron Smith, a legislative affairs aide who was on a list of people expected to attend a prison reform event with Trump last week. Marc Short, the former White House legislative affairs director, appeared later in the show and confirmed she was speaking about Smith.
Pressed again about the lack of African Americans in the West Wing, Conway protested Karl’s contention, but did not go on to name a person.
“There are plenty of people,” Conway said. “If you’re going by that and not by the actions of the President, which you probably should, then – then you should look at the fact that we have a number of different minorities, and the fact is that this President is doing well for all Americans.”
Manigault Newman has spoken out against Trump since her break from the White House, and as part of the release of a new memoir, she has recently come forward with specific but largely unverifiable accusations about Trump’s character and a job offer that she said was an effort to keep her silent.
Conway, like the White House more broadly, criticized Manigault Newman on Sunday, denying a raft of her accusations and saying she had undermined her own credibility.