Update: Richmond offered an if-anyone-was-offended apology late Sunday, but apparently still contends his joke wasn't meant to be crude.
“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.”
Pelosi's office still hasn't responded to The Post's requests for comment. The post below is from earlier Sunday.
Four days ago, a Democratic congressman made what seemed to be a pretty blatantly tasteless joke about how top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway “really looked kind of familiar” kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office.
But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that she hadn't heard about it. And she also suggested that such crude jokes were fair game at the dinner where Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said it.
CNN host Jake Tapper played Pelosi a clip of the joke — “And you can just explain to me that circumstance, because she really looked kind of familiar there in that position there,” Richmond said — and called it a “sexist” and “disgusting” joke. He asked Pelosi whether Richmond should apologize to Conway.
“I wasn't at the dinner. I'm just finding out about this,” Pelosi said. The Washington Post asked her office for comment Thursday and received no response.
Pelosi continued, pointing instead to President Trump's “Access Hollywood” video: “You all are criticizing Cedric for something he said in the course of the evening, 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.”
Pelosi then seemed to excuse Richmond's joke, given that he was speaking at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner, where jokes tend to be cruder than politicians are willing to be in their daily lives.
“I think everybody was making crude comments,” Pelosi said. “And I just — I just don't know. I wasn't at that dinner.”
Richmond has declined to apologize for the joke, saying it wasn't a reference to anything crude or sexual.
“Where I grew up saying that someone is looking or acting ‘familiar’ simply means that they are behaving too comfortably,” he said. “I decided to use that joke due to the large social media backlash over her inappropriate posture considering there were more than 60 [historically black college and university] presidents in the room.”
Richmond's joke, though, seemed to recall an infamous incident involving Bill Clinton in the Oval Office — the one that led to his impeachment. And before Richmond's speech, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) referenced the same incident.
“Has anyone seen the controversy around Kellyanne Conway and the couch in the Oval Office?” Scott said. “Come on, people. You remember the '90s. That couch has had a whole lot of worse things.”
Richmond punctuated his own joke by saying, “And I don't want you to refer back to the '90s.”
As Tapper noted in the interview, by not criticizing Richmond for his joke — which Tapper contends was clearly sexist and, at the very least, came across that way — Democrats risk ceding the moral high ground on things like Trump's “Access Hollywood” video. What's also surprising here is that Pelosi somehow hadn't even heard about Richmond's joke. And when given the chance to respond, she clearly seemed to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The Washington Post has reached out to Pelosi's office to see whether she has any further comment after having more of a chance to review Richmond's comments. If we receive one, we'll add it here.