Donald Trump aide accuses student of using sexual assault allegations to ‘try and make the news’

Kellyanne Conway was asked how she could 'rationalise' working for the President-elect as a woman 

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The Independent Online

Kellyanne Conway accused a student of using the sexual assault claims against Donald Trump as a way of getting into the news after being asked how she could “rationalise” being his aide.

The perpetually serene spokeswoman who became an increasingly prominent figure in Mr Trump’s campaign was on Wednesday challenged on her decision to work for a man accused of sexual assault by Maaike Laanstra-Corn, the daughter of Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn, during a discussion at the University of Virginia’s Centre for Politics. Mr Trump has strenuously denied all of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault made against him. 

Maaike began her question by highlighting Ms Conway's achievements as a woman, including being the first woman to lead a successful Republican presidenital campaign. Then her line of questioning became more pointed. “Donald Trump has negated claims that he sexually assaulted women but also admitted to a tape where he seemed to be describing sexual assault. How do you rationalise that as a woman and also as his campaign manager?” 

Maaike's question was met with applause from the audience, but Ms Conway was visibly displeased at this personal question. For a moment, the mask slipped. "Lest we be confused about the politics of the audience," she coolly observed, before quipping, "How's the millennial outreach programme going Hillary?"

Gathering herself, Ms Conway responded: “What you just said was said probably tens of thousands of times during the campaign, on the internet, on TV incessantly, in paid advertising. What you saw in the TV ads was exactly what you saw in direct mail, which is all this anti-woman stuff. And you know how America’s women answered? They gave the would-be first female candidate, I don’t know, what was it, 56 percent of the vote, 57?” 

“For you to use sexual assault to try to make news here is unfortunate,” she added.

One of her most notable skills during the election was the way in which she could bounce from a challenging question into completely unrelated spin, which she did with ease once again by claiming women were tired of hearing questions about the allegations. 

She accused the student of trying to be “personally mean”. “Larry said I can skip the question but I won’t, because I’m glad that people looked at [those attacks] and said, ‘You know what? That’s an argument that will not create a single job in my community, not bring back a single of the 70,000 factories that have been closed, will not deter one member of Isis from doing their bloodletting here or anywhere else in the world.’”

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