Defending Trump, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway asks a reporter: 'What's your ethnicity?'

The presidential counselor's unusual question came during a tense exchange with the media.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Adam Edelman

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday responded to questions about President Donald Trump's attacks on four congresswomen of color by asking a reporter about his heritage.

Andrew Feinberg, a White House reporter for Breakfast Media, a website about politics and technology, asked Conway, "If the president was not telling these four congresswomen to return to their supposed countries of origin, to which countries was he referring?"

Conway paused and then asked him, "What's your ethnicity?"

"Why is that relevant?" Feinberg replied.

"Because I'm asking a question. My ancestors are from Ireland and Italy," Conway shot back.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

The exchange took place with members of the media on the White House driveway Tuesday morning, when, following an appearance on Fox News, Conway was repeatedly asked what Trump meant when he tweeted earlier this week that a quartet of progressive congresswomen should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

From there, the exchange turned into a tense back-and-forth that included Conway saying that "a lot of us are sick and tired of this country, of America coming last to people who swore an oath of office."

"My own ethnicity is not relevant to the question I'm asking," Feinberg said.

“Are you saying the president was telling the Palestinian American to go back to the occupied territories?" he continued.

That question was a reference to one target of Trump's remarks, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a Palestinian American who was born in Michigan.

Tlaib is one of the four progressive congresswomen of color whom Trump has repeatedly attacked in recent days. The other three are fellow Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

Omar, a Somali refugee, moved to the United States when she was 12 and is a naturalized citizen; Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Latin American descent, was born in New York; and Pressley, who is African American, was born in Cincinnati.

Hours later, Feinberg — who is Jewish — responding to a question on Twitter, said he didn't think Conway was being anti-Semitic.