Conway versus Conway: Kellyanne and husband George conflict on Trump’s travel-ban Twitter tirade
Eh, I don’t know if “versus” is the right word. It’s hard to believe Kellyanne disagrees privately with George’s take about this, which is indisputably correct on the merits and no doubt shared almost unanimously among lawyers at the DOJ. Which may explain why he felt obliged to speak up: He knew it’d get the media’s, and by extension Trump’s, attention.
That is, in fact, the real George Conway’s Twitter account, in case you’re wondering. At least two reporters have confirmed it. “OSG” is the Office of the Solicitor General, the branch of the DOJ that defends the administration’s policies before the Supreme Court.
Conway followed up:
The interesting question to which we’ll probably never have an answer is whether he went rogue here or if he ran this by Kellyanne beforehand, knowing how it might create trouble for her, and got the green light to tweet. (The last time George Conway tweeted before today was December 2015. He’s not in the habit of idly spouting off, especially about sensitive political matters.) Wouldn’t be the first time a Trump insider has used someone on the outside to send a message to the president, although typically the conduit is reporters and newspapers, not spouses. What makes this extra awkward is that, until three days ago, George was Trump’s presumptive nominee to lead the DOJ’s Civil Division. He withdrew on Friday, and now here he is knocking Trump publicly for sabotaging his own travel ban case. Is that why Conway withdrew — because he didn’t want to deal with the headaches of having a boss who might undermine the Justice Department’s work at any moment?
Kellyanne also spoke up today about this morning’s tweetstorm, as you’ll see below. Rather than defend it, she tried to deflect: Why is the media obsessing about the president’s social-media habits instead of about ISIS and terrorism? (Well, George?) You could turn that question around, though. Why is Trump picking fights with the mayor of London and riffing about his “politically correct” revised travel ban instead of keeping the focus on ISIS? This endless game of fetch between Trump and the media requires two participants to play. Plus, since when is the most powerful man in the world’s Twitter habit not newsworthy? Kellyanne herself said this about it in January:
“Wouldn’t it be great for you personally if he tweeted a little bit less?” Meyers asked.
“No, actually, the answer is no,” Conway said. “It’s his way to communicate directly with the people. It’s free for you. You get information from him. The press doesn’t like it because he does an end run around them, and it’s the democratization of information. You don’t have to wait for some journalist, some anti-Trump journalist to curate the information and bias it.”
Twitter is the populist president’s pipeline to the people. (Say that five times fast.) More than that, Trump himself has suggested at times, directly or indirectly, that he’s the only person in his administration who can be trusted to speak for him. He’s contradicted his official spokesmen, mused that he might do away with daily press briefings and hold his own bimonthly press conferences instead, and even gotten Sean Spicer to say that he can’t authoritatively state what the president’s position is on climate change. Apart from presidential interviews and press conferences, which are rare, Trump’s Twitter account is the most useful channel for insight into the direction of the executive branch and U.S. foreign policy that exists today. (A new Twitter bot which reformats his off-the-cuff rantings into official-looking White House press releases makes that point beautifully, and understatedly.) Tom Nichols, who used to consult for the CIA on the Soviet Union, wrote recently that he would have killed for the sort of unfiltered window into Russian leaders’ minds that Trump regularly provides to America’s enemies on Twitter. And Trump’s recent tweets aren’t nothingburgers: Needling the mayor of London in the aftermath of a terror attack is bound to raise tensions with a close ally and attacking his own travel ban is destined to undermine his defense in court. They’re not the story of the week, but they’re a story. If he doesn’t want them to be, why is he rage-tweeting in the first place?