During a forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics last week, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway claimed that Trump’s habit of tweeting inaccurate and inflammatory statements and lies was indeed “presidential behavior” simply by the virtue of being the president-elect.
After she defended Trump’s use of social media, saying that Trump is a “unique person who’s been following his instincts and his judgement from the beginning,” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if Trump’s tweet about millions of people voting illegally in the election was “presidential behavior.”
“Well, he’s the president-elect,” Conway responded, shrugging. “So that’s presidential behavior, yes.”
It was a moment eerily reminiscent of a famous exchange between interviewer David Frost and Richard Nixon, who was three years out of office. Responding to Frost’s question regarding his Huston Plan, which advocated for mass wiretaps of innocent American citizens, Nixon claimed that, in the context of national security risks, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
Tapper clarified with Conway after her claim. “You are saying if the president does it, it’s presidential?” he asked.
“I wasn’t saying otherwise,” Conway said, to laughter from the student audience.