Kellyanne Conway’s hubby refuses to get with the program

In this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, accompanied by her husband, George, speaks with members of the media as they arrive for a dinner at Union Station in Washington, the day before Trump's inauguration. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

In this Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, accompanied by her husband, George, speaks with members of the media as they arrive for a dinner at Union Station in Washington, the day before Trump's inauguration. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

You don’t need Netflix or Showtime to track the best reality series in Washington. “The Conways” features a serial liar who’s enslaved to power (Kellyanne), and a husband who’s off the reservation, incessantly tweeting truth to power (George). She abets her lawless boss while George trolls him. What can possibly explain this bizarre family dynamic?

Back in March, when I first noticed George’s string of anti-Trump tweets, I assumed they were fake, a standard social media prank. After all, George is a respected conservative attorney who bonded with Kellyanne back in the ’90s when they schemed against President Clinton (he on the legal front, she on the messaging front). Ann Coulter was their matchmaker. They’ve been married since ’01, he has supported her Trump career, and I figured there was no way he’d be dissing Trump on Twitter and undercutting his wife.

But lo and behold, his Twitter feed is real. Their pillow talk must be fascinating.

When the Trump White House floated a trial balloon that the Leader was weighing preemptive pardons of Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, George tweeted: “This is flabbergasting.” When Trump recently pulled a policy U-turn and hung his spokespeople out to dry, George retweeted a CNN reporter’s comment (“this is why officials are so hesitant to speak for Trump”) and he added his own remark: “So true. It’s absurd. Which is why people are banging down the doors to be his comms director.” His snark was awesome, because, at that time, the rumored front-runner for the job of communications director was Kellyanne.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

George loves to retweet people who knock Trump. Last month he retweeted Chris Christie’s warning that Trump’s “hyberbolic” style could land him in the slammer. And when Michael Cohen confessed that he’d sent $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, George helpfully tweeted the relevant provisions of federal law that exposed the payoff as an illegal campaign contribution. (Thanks, George!)

Earlier this week, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked on Capitol Hill whether he believed that his department was engaged in a “deep state” conspiracy against Trump, George helpfully retweeted Pompeo’s answer: “I don’t believe there’s a ‘deep state’ at the State Department.” When Trump demanded last Sunday that the Justice Department investigate his investigators, George retweeted a former DOJ prosecutor who said, “The Department of Justice doesn’t open investigations for political purposes. There are rules.” And early this morning, George retweeted Mitch McConnell’s Thursday endorsement of the ongoing Mueller investigation.

He has also rebuked Rudy Giuliani; when Rudy recently claimed that a president can’t be subject to a subpoena, George told Reuters that Rudy’s argument was “drivel.” And despite his wife’s incessant attacks on the free and independent press, George reportedly emails members of the free and independent press — with unsolicited suggestions on how they might improve their rightly skeptical coverage of Trump.

So, the obvious question: What’s going on here?

George refuses to explain his motivations. His latest public comment: “If I wanted to say something publicly, I would just say it.” So we’re left to speculate. Is he signaling to Kellyanne that she should bail on Trump before she’s irrevocably soiled? Is this Kellyanne in Machiavellian mode, signaling via George that she’s not the lockstep loyalist she pretends to be? Is the couple auditioning for their next act, as successors to the dueling lovebirds Mary Matalin and James Carville?

Kellyanne hasn’t enlightened us, either. Last month, when CNN asked her about George’s tweets, she promptly went ballistic: “It’s fascinating to me that CNN would go there, but it’s very good for the whole world to have just witnessed … You just brought him into this, so this ought to be fun moving forward. We’re now going to talk about other people’s spouses and significant others just because they either work at the White House or at CNN? Are we now going to do that? Because you just went there. CNN just went there.”

I have no idea what any of that means (Kellyanne is the queen of jabberwocky), but clearly the topic struck a nerve. The episode also highlighted her hypocrisy, because she has spent decades talking “about other people’s spouses,” assailing Bill for Hillary and assailing Hillary for Bill.

But perhaps the best answer is the easiest: George is a veteran member of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, and he’s upset that the Society has remained officially silent about Trump’s assaults on the rule of law — assaults that, as a man of principle, he cannot abide. According to Politico, “friends and acquaintances say Conway’s tweets are just the tip of the iceberg of frustration with Trump that has only grown over the past year.” If so, it would appear that loyalty to his conscience is trumping loyalty to his wife.

Whatever the reason, we’ll take him as he is. What a rare treat to have an insider on the outside. Perhaps we need a commemorative coin that reads, “Free George Conway.” Absent that, we should simply say, “You go, dude. Keep it up!”

By the way, congratulations to Trump on winning the Nobel Putz Prize. That’s a coin I’d love to own.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal