Morning Joe: Trump’s furious over attacks on Romney; Update: CNN source says “irritated”
Furious? According to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, that’s how two sources from the top of the Donald Trump transition team describe the boss after a weekend in which Kellyanne Conway and some of his top allies have tried to torpedo a potential Mitt Romney appointment. Is this on the level, or is this more gamesmanship from within the Trump camp to keep the pot good and stirred?
If it’s on the level, it’s certainly baffling. “Kellyanne went rogue at the worst possible time,” Mika Brzezinski reported:
The knives came out for Conway in a big way, apparently. Their sources claim that both Trump and Stephen Bannon are “frustrated” with “Conway’s failure to become a team player.” Joe Scarborough called it “extraordinarily undisciplined,” and that’s true whether or not their two sources are on the level. It certainly appears that we’re seeing a palace revolt over a potential Romney appointment even before the team moves into the palace. Playing this out in the media as Conway, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Chris Collins has will rattle confidence in the president-elect not just with Romney, but also with everyone else under consideration for top roles in the new administration. Who else wants to set themselves up for friendly fire on the Sunday talk shows by considering a job working with these same people? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Conway wasted no time in responding to this report, calling it false and — wait for it — “sexist”:
Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway panned as “sexist” a report by MSNBC Monday morning that the president-elect is “furious” with her over her attacks against Mitt Romney, a possible pick to be secretary of state. …
Citing anonymous sources at the top of Trump’s transition team, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” reported that Trump was “furious” with Conway for attacking Romney in her Sunday interviews. One source told the network that “Kellyanne went rogue at Donald Trump’s expense” while another said there is a growing sentiment within the transition team that Conway has been promoting her own agenda instead of the president-elect’s.
Conway responded to MSNBC with a statement which the “Morning Joe” anchors paraphrased on air. In it, the Trump senior adviser said of MSNBC’s reporting: “It is all false. And it is sexist.”
The report of Trump’s fury may turn out to be false, but … sexist? On whose part? Conway’s been making the press rounds attacking Romney for some purpose, so reporting on its implications is hardly gender-related. Besides, isn’t this the same kind of political correctness that the Trump campaign attacked to significant effect during the campaign? Hillary Clinton and her allies repeated that claim ad nauseam with every criticism of her scandals and her record (and still do, by the way). Using it as a refuge when under scrutiny for what have been very strange choices by Conway in a transition sounds a little desperate. If Conway didn’t want scrutiny over her choices, then she should have stayed off the talk shows and kept her counsel to herself, or to Trump in private.
This seems like a binary choice: either the story’s bogus and Conway’s acting on Trump’s orders, or she’s not and Trump’s beginning to notice it. If Trump’s directing Conway to stir the pot, the purpose of it seems pretty inscrutable. All it does is lift Romney’s visibility even higher and strengthens his position as eminence grise among Right-leaning Republicans if he doesn’t get the State slot, and weakens Trump if he feels compelled to offer Romney the position by making it look as though he can’t control his own troops. For that reason alone, the Morning Joe report has at least a whiff of truth to it, because it’s become very clear that Conway et al intended to put Trump in that box.
Update: CNN has a single source that corroborates the Morning Joe report, although their source says Trump’s “irritated” over Conway’s attacks:
President-elect Donald Trump is “irritated” with top aide Kellyanne Conway’s public campaign against Mitt Romney’s potential nomination as Secretary of State, according to a source.
The Trump source acknowledged the existence of an internal feud between Conway and chief of staff Reince Priebus, specifically about the choice between Romney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani for the nation’s top diplomatic position.