Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., chat before speaking last Wednesday at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner. (Photo: Deborah Barfield Berry, USA TODAY)
Rep. Cedric Richmond apologized Sunday night for remarks he made about White House adviser Kellyanne Conway at a recent media dinner.
The Louisiana Democrat made what appeared to be a lewd joke about a photo of Conway in his comments to a packed ballroom of lawmakers and journalists last Wednesday at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual congressional dinner. Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, has come under fire for what some call sexist comments.
“After a discussion with people I know and trust I understand the way my remarks have been received by many,” Richmond said in a statement. “I have consistently been a champion for women and women’s issues, and because of that 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 comments to be offensive.”
At the dinner, Richmond referred to a picture of Conway, who was barefoot while kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office and taking pictures of President Trump meeting with presidents of historically black colleges and universities. The picture went viral on social media.
“I want to know what’s going on there,’’ Richmond said. “I will not tell anybody. You can just explain to me that circumstance because you look kind of familiar in that position there. Don’t answer and I don’t want you to refer back … to the 90s.”
Earlier in the program. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., had joked about the picture and the couch in the Oval Office. Scott was referring to the scandal with then-president Bill Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky in the office.
“Come on people. You remember the 1990s,’’ he said. “That couch has had a whole lot of worse things.”
Richmond said later his comment about Conway was not meant to be offensive, but that he was referring to her casual behavior with black college presidents.
Richmond’s remarks stirred reaction at the dinner and on social media in the days after the event.
The WPCF fundraiser attracts congressional lawmakers, journalists and Capitol Hill staffers. The foundation salutes a journalist for their body of work and awards prizes to regional reporters.
But one of the highlights of the event is the funny exchange between a Democratic lawmaker and a Republican lawmaker. Richmond and Scott, who are friends, were the featured speakers.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has also been criticized for not demanding Richmond apologize. Jake Tapper asked Pelosi on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday: “Where is the Democratic Party in expressing outrage about this?"
Pelosi said she had not attended the dinner and didn’t know much about the comments.
“You all are criticizing Cedric for something he said in the course of the evening," she said. “And he maybe should be criticized for that. I just don't know the particulars. But do I, every day, marvel at the fact that somebody who said the gross and crude things that President Trump said, he wouldn't even be allowed in a frat house, and he's in the White House."
She was referring to Trump’s lewd comments about women in a 2005 Access Hollywood video.
Lindsay Jancek, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, blasted Pelosi and other Democrats for not taking Richmond to task.
“The silence coming from many Democrats on the Hill is deafening,’’ she said in a statement Friday. “The incident was inexcusable and needs to be immediately condemned as such.”