Speed Reads


Kellyanne Conway defends Trump's New Year's toast by talking about Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin

In his New Year's Eve toast at his black-tie party at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night, President-elect Donald Trump gave a special shout-out to Hussain Sajwani, a billionaire business partner from Dubai, and his family. Sajwani's company DAMAC Properties built the Trump International Golf Course Dubai, opening in February, and is working on a second golf course in the emirate, set to be opened in 2018 and run by The Trump Corporation. Trump canceled a December press conference to explain how he plans to separate himself from his business to prevent conflicts of interest, so Anderson Cooper asked Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about the toast on CNN Monday night.

Conway pronounced the question "completely ridiculous and specious," telling Cooper, "This man is allowed to have a New Year's Eve celebration with his friends and his business partners, or his acquaintances." Conway said she herself had dinner "with the Husseins one night, Hussein and his wife, absolutely lovely people," and the fact that people are twisting Trump's toast to a friend "to somehow it's a business favor, I mean we've got to get ahold of ourselves here."

"If you took that example to its extreme, nobody would be able to be friends with anybody else," Conway said. "And so I saw you on New Year's Eve having a great time with Kathy Griffin — I find much of that to be very entertaining — and I'll leave it at that. In other words, nobody's saying, 'But do you endorse the maker of the shirt she had on?'"

Conway shifted gears to speculating that if Trump were not allowed to have any contact with his business as president, he wouldn't be able to talk to his own sons, who are expected to take over operation of the company — which is kind of the point, but also robbed a confused-looking Cooper of the chance to ask what Kathy Griffin's shirt has to do with a president profiting from his own policies or shaping his policies for his own personal benefit.