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Kellyanne Conway Defends Trump Church Photo Op by Claiming it Wasn’t a Photo Op: ‘Because a Photo Was Taken?’

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway argued that it’s unfair to refer to President Donald Trump’s brief appearance at a church to pose for photographs with a Bible as a photo op “just because a photo was taken.”

Trump has taken blistering criticism since police and National Guard used teargas to clear protesters out of Lafayette Park minutes before Trump led an entourage over to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a brief visit during which photographers had the opportunity to photograph Trump holding a Bible.

But on Tuesday afternoon, Conway argued with reporter about the event during a gaggle on the White House driveway.

CBS News’ Weijia Jiang told Conway that faith leaders “continue to criticize what happened when the president arrived at St John’s,” and asked “How do you describe what happened as being more than a photo op?”

An indignant Conway shot back “I think the words photo op itself, calling into question, you’re looking into someone’s heart and wondering, and second-guessing why they would go over there.”

“Is it a photo op because a photo was taken? While the president of the United States was in front of a church where we went on inauguration day, where every president has gone for more than two centuries?” Conway asked, then added “I think that itself is a mischaracterization. I know it ended up being a Sesame Street Grover word of the day, but that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make it true.”

Conway explained that he chose to visit the church because “he saw those images on Sunday night” and “saw many people very upset”about the fact that the church was set on fire during the unrest.

She concluded by responding to the criticism from faith leaders, saying “I think those criticisms, people have a right to make them but I think they’re unfortunate because they have more than a tinge of calling into question the president’s motivation for going to a church that had been set on fire by anarchists and arsonists less than 24 hours earlier.”

While Conway’s remarks explain the symbolic importance of the church as a setting, the video of Trump’s visit shows several minutes of him adopting a variety of poses with the Bible, then inviting members of his administration to pose as well, and at one point even shushing someone inviting him to deliver some sort of message, before thanking the assembled press and ending the, um, image capture happenstance.

Watch the clip above via C-SPAN.

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