Senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is defending Donald Trump's recent use of the racist term "kung-flu" to describe COVID-19, despite calling the phrase "highly offensive" and "very hurtful" in March.
Trump used the term during his poorly attended rally in Oklahoma and again on Tuesday while meeting with student supporters in Arizona. Conway was asked about it by reporters on Wednesday morning, who noted that she had previously condemned its use.
"We don't always agree on everything and that's why I work here," Conway said, suggesting that the difference showed Trump is a "very strong leader."Conway said Trump's racist rhetoric was a way of holding China accountable for the virus.
"My reaction is that the president has made very clear he wants everybody to understand — and I think many Americans do understand — that the virus originated in China and had China been more transparent and honest with the United States and the world, we wouldn't have all the death and destruction that unfortunately we've suffered and that's important, continue to be important," Conway said.
However, in both instances of Trump using the phrase, he was not talking about holding China accountable, but instead was claiming that there is a long list of names for the virus and that the racist "kung-flu" was one of them.
On Tuesday, Trump also expressed confusion about the "19" in COVID-19, saying "some people can't explain" it.
Earlier in the week, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also defended Trump's use of the racist phrase, insisting that Trump "does not believe it's offensive to note that this virus came from China." She also claimed Trump's use of the phrase was somehow a way for him to "stand up for our U.S. military, who China's making an active effort to completely defame."
Even as Conway defended Trump's use of the racist phrase, she renewed her previous attacks on CBS reporter Weijia Jiang, who first reported that someone in the White House had used the phrase in front of her.
"I'm glad you're joining us, Weijia, because I still invite you up here to tell us who said that, and I think that that would be a very important revelation," said Conway.
"That's not a source for you to protect, that's somebody who shouldn't have said that and you're claiming did say that. We still don't know who that was," she added.
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