White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway made the morning news rounds on Tuesday morning to discuss national security advisor Michael Flynn's abrupt resignation, and may not have been prepared for some of the questions she was asked.
Appearing on NBC's TODAY Show, Conway spoke with co-host Matt Lauer about Flynn's resignation, and the exchange quickly became uncomfortable. As Conway discussed the timeline of the events and reaffirmed that Flynn had the full confidence of President Donald Trump as late as Monday afternoon, she told Lauer that Flynn's resignation came specifically because the White House discovered he previously misled Vice President Mike Pence about his phone call with a Russian official.
Lauer reminded her that the Department of Justice alerted the incoming administration that Flynn had misled the White House last month. "But wait a second, you're saying that was the straw that broke the camel's back, but the White House knew about that last month when the Justice Department warned the White House that General Flynn had not been completely honest in characterizing that conversation with the Russian ambassador," Lauer said. "And they even went further to say that as a result of that dishonesty, he was at risk for blackmailing by the Russians."
"Well that's one characterization," Conway replied, appearing to have no answer. "As time wore on, obviously the situation had become unsustainable."
Lauer attempted to ask her again how Flynn would have had the full confidence of the President, knowing that the Justice Department had warned him about Flynn's mischaracterization and vulnerability with the Russians last month. Conway again deflected, telling Lauer the administration is moving forward.
"Matt, I'm telling you what the President has said, which is that he has accepted General Flynn's resignation, and he wishes him well, and that we're moving on," she said.
Lauer then questioned whether the Trump administration knew Flynn had contacted the Russians to warn them about sanctions, which Conway explicitly denied. "No. It would be a mistake to conclude that. In the end, remember it was misleading the Vice President that made the situation unsustainable," she said.
"Which the White House knew about last month," Lauer repeated.
Conway then appeared on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos, when things got arguably even more tense as Conway repeated she did not know the answer to many of the questions she was asked.
Stephanopoulos first asked Conway if White House counsel told the president himself that Flynn may have been susceptible to Russian blackmail, but Conway said she didn't know. She added, "I can’t reveal what the White House knew or didn’t know, and who in the White House did or didn’t know."
Moments later, Stephanopoulos pressed her again for an answer. "You asked to come on at the president’s request, the president wants you to come out and speak for the White House this morning. Do you know if the president was told three weeks ago, when Sally Yates told the White House counsel that General Flynn had been compromised, do you know if the president was told that?"
“I do not know that, George,” she told him.
Stephanopoulos continued, “Do you know if the vice president was told that?”
“I do not know that,” Conway answered.
“Do you know why the White House chose not to correct the record for those three weeks?" Stephanopolous pressed again.
“Well, again, you’re presuming that all the information you have there is completely factual,” Conway told him. "This is very fluid."
Conway then told Stephanopolous that Trump is very loyal, but he accepted Flynn's resignation and is moving on.