At a Washington Press Club Foundation dinner last week, the Congressional Black Caucus chairman made a quip about “Couchgate” ― the widely circulated photo showing the White House aide, while surrounded by leaders of historically black universities and President Donald Trump, perched on an Oval Office sofa with her legs tucked under her.
“I really just want to know what was going on there, because, you know, I won’t tell anybody,” Richmond said at the dinner, the Times-Picayune reported. “You can just explain to me that circumstance — because she really looked kind of familiar in that position there ... and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s.”
He appeared to be referring to the scandal involving former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) first referenced the ‘90s at the dinner, saying things “a whole lot worse” had happened on the couch.
Conway and Chelsea Clinton were among those who immediately lambasted the comments.
Richmond insisted he didn’t intend the comments to be sexually suggestive, and said he used the word “familiar” to mean that Conway was a bit too comfortable, given the situation.
But he followed up with a statement Sunday: “After a discussion with people I know and trust, I understand the way my remarks have been received by many. I have consistently been a champion for women and women’s issues, and ... the last thing I would want to ever do is utter words that would hurt or demean them. I apologize to Kellyanne Conway and everyone who has found my comment to be offensive.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refrained from criticizing Richmond when she appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, saying she hadn’t seen a video of his remarks. She did resurrect Trump’s recorded boast from 2005 about grabbing women by the genitals against their will, calling it “gross and crude.” She added: “He wouldn’t even be allowed in a frat house, and he’s in the White House.”
The bizarre photo of Conway on the couch has become a viral meme. Conway has said she was simply trying to get a good position so she could take a group photo.
Conway’s post even made a few appearances on the latest episode of “Saturday Night Live.” In once scene, cast member Kate McKinnon, while playing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, holds up the photo of “my best good friend,” and adds: “You ain’t got no legs, Kellyanne.”
As of Sunday, Conway hadn’t commented on Richmond’s apology.