Conway Criticizes Recounts, Calls Trump ‘Gracious and Magnanimous’ for Not Prosecuting Clinton

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Conway used to have the job of defending candidate Trump’s skepticism about the integrity of election results.Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images

One day after the Clinton campaign indicated it would participate in three swing-state-recount efforts started by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said that President-elect Trump has been “incredibly gracious and magnanimous” for backing off on his promise to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of State. Conway had been asked by CNN’s Dana Bash if she agreed with Trump breaking his unprecedented campaign promise to prosecute his election opponent, and Conway at first highlighted Trump’s recent comment to the New York Times that he didn’t want to “hurt” the Clintons now that he’s won the presidency. Conway then juxtaposed Trump’s post-election stance with the Clinton campaign’s recount participation, implying that the Clinton team should be more respectful of the president-elect now that he’s opted against further calls for Clinton’s imprisonment.

“He’s been incredibly gracious and magnanimous to Secretary Clinton at a time when, for whatever reason, her folks are saying they will join in a recount to try to somehow undo the 70-plus electoral votes that he beat her by,” Conway said to Bash.

Conway also reiterated that Trump would not rule out a criminal probe if it was recommended by the Department of Justice, F.B.I., or Congress, which is a position that Trump’s pick for White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, elaborated on during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “On the issue in regard to Hillary Clinton, [Trump’s] point there is he’s not seeking methods and ways to persecute and prosecute Hillary Clinton,” Priebus told host Chris Wallace. “I would also tell you that if the attorney general and the Congress find evidence that would indicate that something needs to happen and our attorney general, Jeff Sessions, at the DOJ says something needs to happen, I would suspect that President-elect Trump is going to be open to listening to what that is, but ultimately it’s going to be the DOJ’s call.”

Asked by Wallace about the recount efforts, Priebus was dismissive, opining that the push “is a total and complete hypocritical joke,” before adding that “they will waste our time and we will staff up with thousands of people, we will sit there and look through Scantron ballots, we will win again for the second time and they will lose again for the second time. But our country doesn’t need it.”

Also on Sunday, Trump himself weighed in on the Clinton campaign’s recount participation. After calling the recounts a “Green Party scam” on Saturday, Trump tweeted on Sunday morning that “nothing will change” as a result of the effort. He then quoted one of Clinton’s debate answers about respecting the election results, as well as her concession speech, before commenting that, in regards to the recounts, “So much time and money will be spent — same result! Sad.” On Saturday night, Trump also taunted the Democrats for complaining about his rigged-election suspicions during the campaign.

The Clinton campaign has maintained that they are not contesting the results of the election — nor do they believe the results will change — but are simply participating in the recounts as a matter of legal due diligence.