President Donald Trump's Counsellor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday asked a reporter about his racial background, a question that added more fuel to the firestorm engulfing the White House in its dispute with the four progressive members of Congress known as "The Squad."
"So the White House is doubling down on Trump's racism by having spox ask reporters their ethnicity?" tweeted writer Jessica Valenti. "Super normal shit."
The conflagration began on Sunday, when, as Common Dreams reported, Trump jumped into an ongoing feud between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Trump, in a series of tweets, implied the quartet were not Americans and said they should go back to where they came from. All are U.S. citizens.
The president, on Monday, doubled down on the statements, prompting a press conference from The Squad in which the four dismissed the president's attacks as a distraction from policies aimed at adding to the wealth of the richest Americans and demonizing and attacking people of color.
It was in that context that Andrew Feinberg, a reporter with digital outlet Beltway Breakfast, questioned Conway on the president's comments, particularly Trump's charge that the quartet go back to the countries "from which they came."
Conway, in response, asked Feinberg, "What's your ethnicity?"
"Why is that relevant?" Feinberg asked.
"Because I'm asking you a question," Conway replied, before launching into a soliloquy praising the military and agents from Customs and Border Protection.
Observers found the exchange bizarre—at best.
"Oh good," tweeted Buzzfeed reporter Joe Bernstein, "White House now asking Jewish reporters where they come from."
Justice Collaborative fellow Daniel Nichanian, in a tweet, tied Conway's rhetoric to a bygone era of American demagoguery.
"So McCarthyism," said Nichanian, "now against people whose ancestors aren't from Europe."
Conway's comments on the White House lawn provided the capper on a rather full 24 hours for the White House adviser, who, on Monday, skipped her subpoenaed testimony in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, a move that could result in her being held in contempt.
Earlier on Tuesday, Conway told Fox News that The Squad represent "the dark underbelly" of America.
"Kellyanne Conway is the dark underbelly of this country," tweeted Media Matters for America Editor-at-large Parker Molloy.