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Trump ‘acquitted forever,’ says Kellyanne Conway

President Trump was acquitted Thursday of both impeachment charges brought to the Senate by the House. The vote was along party lines, with the exception of Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who sided with Democrats and considered Trump guilty of abuse of power. Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss her “delight” at the outcome and Trump’s State of the Union address.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    We return now to our top story, and that is the impeachment trial.

    We start with a view from the White House. Kellyanne Conway is a counselor to the president.

    Kellyanne Conway, welcome back to the program.

    Let me ask you first.

    You have — the president was impeached by the House of Representatives. He was acquitted by the Senate. How does he read this?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    I was just with the president, Judy. He sends his regards.

    The president is acquitted forever. It wasn't even close. The Senate, of course, under the Constitution, needs 67 votes to convict and remove a president from office. It wasn't close. He has not been removed. He will be reelected.

    And I think it's time for this Congress, this city and this country to come together, the way the president was making that call to action to so many Americans yesterday.

    The guests in the first lady's box, the words in that State of the Union were meant to paint a picture of an American comeback that is optimistic, an economic buoyancy, a growth, a job rate and a blue-collar wage boom, but also really celebrating people, figures in history who are still with us, thank God, the Tuskegee Airman, his great grandson, showing the arc of history between those two men.

    You had the little girl Ellie from Ohio — from Missouri who was born at 21 weeks six days. You have a military family being united. You have the president calling on Congress to celebrate Soleimani and al-Baghdadi's extermination from this country.

    So, so much for us to be happy about. And I think one thing we are pleased with tonight at the White House is that the president has been acquitted.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And yet, at the same time, this is a president who has been impeached, just as President Bill Clinton lives with the label of impeachment forever.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, Judy, that is what the critics and naysayers want to keep saying.

    I think what is most important, if we're going to talk about President Clinton and his impeachment, he had already been reelected. So this is a different situation.

    The president's campaign has said publicly that this impeachment trial and the protracted arguments about the waste of time and money by Congress, in their view, had helped them to raise money, has helped the president's approval rating, according to Gallup, is at an all-time high at 49 percent.

    In that same Gallup poll, 59 percent of Americans reported they are financially better off than they were a year ago. And, in a separate question, 74 percent say that they predict they will be financially better off a year from now.

    President Clinton, after he was impeached, enjoyed similar numbers.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, let me…

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    People said the economy's doing great, and I feel like those who were putting upon him were on the wrong side.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let me ask you, though, about one Republican vote to convict the president, found him guilty on the article abuse of power. And that's Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.

    What's the president's message to him?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, it's disappointing, maybe unsurprisingly disappointing.

    And Senator Romney stands alone in that regard. I don't think he should be much of a headline today. He ran for president and lost. He got about 100 electoral votes less than President Trump when he won.

    And we have counted on Senator Romney's help on any number of issues in this White House. He has voted with the president most of the time, the vast, vast majority of the time, and people should recognize, that, when it comes to the agenda, Mitt Romney has been a solid yes vote for President Trump's agenda, for these policies.

    I will leave that for the people of Utah to sort out. I know the other — the senior senator — senior senator from Utah, Mike Lee, certainly voted to acquit the president and is a constitutional scholar.

    But I guess it was a little unsurprising and, at the same time, irrelevant because the vote — it was not a squeaker. The vote wasn't even close.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There are other Republicans, though, Kellyanne Conway, who, while they voted to find the president — to acquit the president, in effect, who also said that they found his actions in reaching out to the president of Ukraine, asking him to investigate a political rival, that they found it wrong, they found it inappropriate.

    Senator Susan Collins said that she hoped the president had learned a lesson from that.

    These are not the words of Republicans who approve of what the president did.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, these are words of Republicans who voted today to acquit him, though, Judy, because they didn't see this rising to the level of the high crimes and misdemeanors that is constitutionally warranted to take such a drastic and unusual, really rare action, to remove a duly and democratically elected president from office at any time, let alone just months before the next election.

    So, I respect their opinions, and I respect their right to voice some of their concerns. But I'm also very happy. I join the president in the delight that they found the way to vote for him — vote for acquittal.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Will the president in the future — does he feel comfortable in the future reaching out to other governments, as our Yamiche Alcindor reported officials around the president are saying today, feel comfortable reaching out, asking them to investigate a political rival?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, I don't see the word investigate in that — in that phone call transcript. I don't see the word aid. I don't see 2020. I don't see the word elections. I don't see the word demand.

    And, in fact, the Ukrainian president and foreign minister had confirmed many times they had no idea that a demand was being made or aid was being held up. They certainly had their meetings. President Zelensky of Ukraine met with Vice President Pence, which is like meeting with President Trump.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, are you saying the president feels…

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    And then he met with the president in UNGA.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I'm sorry to interrupt.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Go ahead.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You're saying the president would do this again and feel it was the correct thing to do?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Judy, what I'm saying is that there is that — and even those senators who voted to acquit, many of them, did not see in this phone call an explicit demand to investigate the Bidens.

    If the president were listening to people like me, he wouldn't even worry about the — Joe Biden. I think that the president has every right to want to investigate corruption, and the president Ukraine making good on his stated campaign promise that led to his overwhelming victory at the polls to be an anti-corruption president, to be a corruption fighter.

    We don't choose who sits on the board of Burisma, a well-known corrupt, ethically compromised energy company in Ukraine, any more than we choose who's running for president on the Democratic side in 2020.

    But I don't know who's worried about the Bidens. Joe Biden is struggling to hang onto fourth place now in these partial Iowa caucus results. So we don't want anybody to interfere in our elections, Judy.

    That includes the Democrats, who seem to interfere in their own elections in Iowa. That includes many in the mainstream media who put their thumb on the scale last time, unfortunately, and said they had polling that showed Donald Trump couldn't win.

    I don't want anybody to interfere in our elections. I went free and fair elections. And I don't — I certainly don't want other countries to be involved.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kellyanne Conway, adviser, counselor to President Trump, thank you very much.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Thank you, Judy.

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