On Wednesday, one of the president's most polarizing counselors, Kellyanne Conway, defended President Donald Trump, who is currently sparring with her husband in a very public way. Conway, according to Politico, said that the president had every right to defend himself against her spouse, George Conway, as well as his assertions that Trump is suffering from mental illness.
"He left it alone for months out of respect for me," Conway said. "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?"
George Conway, a lawyer, has long taken issue with the president's actions and remarks, especially on Twitter, and occasionally via op-ed. And although it's unusual for the spouse of a high-profile White House employee to fiercely criticize the sitting president, the spat has hummed along at a somewhat quiet pace for months. That changed this week, when the president finally fired back.
In a tweet sent early Tuesday morning, Trump said that George was "a total loser." The tweet included a statement from his 2020 campaign manager that claimed Trump didn't even know George. (A Washington Post report indicates that this is likely untrue, and pointed to, among other things, a personal note Trump reportedly sent George when he and Conway lived in Trump World Tower in 2006.)
On Wednesday, Trump took his attacks up a notch, tweeting that George was jealous of his wife and describing him as a "husband from hell."
"George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted," Trump wrote. "I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!"
George has suggested many times that the president suffers from mental health issues. This week, in particular, he tweeted that "his condition is getting worse" and shared some diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It's important to note that Trump has never been diagnosed with a mental health disorder as far as the public knows, and his doctor has publicly vouched for the president's clean bill of health.
In a recent interview with CNN, Conway said her relationship with Trump is just fine, despite the conflict between him and George. Conway told the news outlet that she believes the president really listens to her, and that she has no interest lending her husband any of her clout.
"People are always saying, 'George and you should write a book, George and you should come to Harvard and speak,' you know side by side and we should do all that, and I think, 'oh, OK,' but then I'd have to give him my power," she told CNN.
She also said that she recognized their power dynamics represented a break from the norm, insofar as gendered stereotypes are concerned.
"It was an unusual situation, especially in politics, or Washington, and certainly in Republican politics ... it's very unusual for a husband to get his notoriety and power through his wife. It's usually the other way around," she said.
Public fights, and especially those on Twitter, are unpredictable in nature, so it's difficult to say where this particular spat might lead. What is clear, however, is that Conway is devoted to backing up her boss.