As yet another high-profile sexual assault allegation is litigated in the public forum, a figure only slightly removed from the president has stepped forward to say that people should take it seriously. Over the weekend, George Conway wrote a scathing op-ed for The Washington Post about E. Jean Carroll's accusation that President Donald Trump raped her in the early '90s. In the piece, Conway suggests that such accusations shouldn't be a party issue.
For his part, Trump has denied Carroll's allegation — as he has done with every sexual misconduct allegation made against him since he was a presidential candidate — describing the accusation as "fake news." He accused Carroll of manufacturing publicity for her own professional endeavors.
“I’ve never met this person in my life,” Trump said in a statement, per The Washington Post. “She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”
In his op-ed, Conway highlights the fact that Republicans were relatively eager to believe rape allegations against Bill Clinton (which Clinton denied), and calls into question the party's resistance to believe similar accusations against one of their own.
"Republicans or conservatives who promoted [Juanita] Broaddrick’s charges would be hypocritical if they fail to champion Carroll and condemn Trump," Conway wrote in the piece, which was published Saturday.
Conway pointed to a press conference the 2016 Trump campaign held following the release of the infamous Access Hollywood hot mic interview. As part of his response to the tape, Trump appeared side-by-side with Broaddrick, who said, at the time, per WSBT: "Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me."
In his op-ed, Conway said that Republicans widely supported Broaddrick in her claims, when she first came forward with them about two decades ago, and again whenever they have resurfaced.
"But Trump called Broaddrick 'courageous,' and if Broaddrick was courageous, then certainly Carroll is as well," Conway wrote. "For Carroll’s story is at least as compelling as Broaddrick’s — if not more so."
Conway's criticism is significant because he is married to Kellyanne Conway, a special counselor to the president. That said, Saturday's op-ed is far from the first time that Conway has blatantly taken issue with his wife's boss. In fact, he has developed quite a reputation for doing so, whether in op-ed, or via his Twitter account.
Although generally quiet in the face of her husband's criticism, Kellyanne did defend Trump in March, after the president described her husband in a tweet as "a total loser." (Conway had suggested that Trump suffered from a mental illness.)
"He left it alone for months out of respect for me," Kellyanne said of Trump at the time. "But you think he shouldn't respond when somebody, a non-medical professional, accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?"
Whether anything will come from Conway's latest criticism remains to be seen. In any event, he has made clear that he is not afraid to speak out — whether against the president, or Republicans more broadly.