White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Friday sought to downplay the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia in the wake of reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is using a grand jury and issued subpoenas in the case.
“Let me remind everyone what the president has said about this,” Conway said on the Fox News morning program “Fox and Friends.” “It’s a witch-hunt. It’s fake. Last night I believe [President Donald Trump] called it a fabrication. And we know that the nature of these types of investigations become fishing expeditions, where you’re just throwing jello up against the wall and hoping it will stick.”
“The fact is that this White House and everybody involved has said that they would comply and share whatever information that they do have,” she said, adding later, “On this matter of the investigation, Ty Cobb, a special counsel to the president, has said that anything that accelerates the process, we are for. And we will continue to cooperate.”
Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department to handle the ongoing probe into Russia’s suspected attempts to meddle in the 2016 election through efforts such as cyberattacks targeting Democratic Party officials. The investigation includes whether any Trump campaign associates were involved in that effort at the time.
The White House has repeatedly denied any inappropriate collusion with Russia. But it has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks because of revelations that President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and campaign aides Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort willingly met with a Russian lawyer peddling damaging information about Hillary Clinton, purportedly provided by the Kremlin, during the campaign.
Mueller has reportedly begun using a grand jury in Washington, D.C., to help with the case and has also reportedly issued subpoenas about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Experts have said that a grand jury does not necessarily mean Mueller is looking to bring charges against anyone, but may be a sign that the investigation is speeding up, rather than slowing down.
On Friday, Conway dismissed the meeting with the Russian lawyer as inconsequential, and tried to turn the conversation to leaks coming from the administration. The grand jury news, she noted, is itself a leak.
She also criticized the leak of transcripts of Trump’s calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia, which the Washington Post published on Thursday to the embarrassment of the White House.
“What really should concern everyone are these leaks that imperil national security,” she said. “Leaking the phone calls between our president and other heads of state is nothing short of a national disgrace.”
“You know who agrees with that?” she added. “Democratic senator from Virginia Mark Warner. He said so yesterday. He said governors, senators and indeed presidents of the United States need to have confidence they can engage in conversation with other heads of state, they can negotiate, they can discuss issues without the threat of it being leaked.”