George and Kellyanne Conway have very different reads on the Mueller report. She says it exonerates the president; he says he should be impeached.
The couple, who has been married since 2001, has fostered an awkward public dynamic under President Donald Trump’s administration. She, a top adviser and confidante, is one of the president’s most committed defenders. He, on the other hand, rarely shies away from the opportunity to take a jab at Trump.
And so their contradictory reactions to the 448-page report from special counsel Robert Mueller, released on Thursday, comes as little surprise.
Conway in a Washington Post op-ed called on Congress to remove Trump from office. He described the report as “damning” and characterized Trump as a “one-man show” whose instincts to squash the investigation into him were curtailed by those around him refusing to carry out his orders and follow his requests.
“[P]residential attempts to abuse power by putting personal interests above the nation’s can surely be impeachable,” Conway wrote. “The president may have the raw constitutional power to, say, squelch an investigation or to pardon a close associate. But if he does so not to serve the public interest, but to serve his own, he surely could be removed from office, even if he has not committed a criminal act.”
Conway quoted John Dean, White House counsel to President Richard Nixon, who famously told Nixon there was a “cancer within — close to the presidency, that’s growing” amid the Watergate scandal.
“What the Mueller report disturbingly shows, with crystal clarity, is that today there is a cancer in the presidency: President Donald J. Trump,” Conway wrote. “Congress now bears the solemn constitutional duty to excise that cancer without delay.”
Kellyanne Conway also invoked medical imagery in her take on the Mueller report — but very much in the opposite direction.
“I called this a political proctology exam, and he’s emerging with a clean bill of health,” Conway said in an interview with Fox News on Thursday. “There’s no other way to look at it.”
She told reporters the release of the Mueller report had been the “best day” since Trump’s election, and the president was in a “great mood.” Not only did she indicate she has no fears Trump will be ousted from office, but she believes he will win in 2020.
“His greatest rebuttal will be he’s in office. He’s going to remain in office. And he’ll get reelected, because the Democrats have nothing,” she said.
.@KellyannePolls on #MuellerReport: "You know what [President Trump's] greatest rebuttal will be? His greatest rebuttal will be he's in office. He's going to remain in office. And he'll get reelected because the Democrats have nothing." pic.twitter.com/2WkT3PbJHy— The Hill (@thehill) April 18, 2019
This is a very weird shtick
George Conway, a lawyer who early in Trump’s tenure was considered for a job in the Justice Department, has since become one of the president’s most outspoken critics. He frequently tweets at and about Trump and disparages the president when he believes he’s stepped out of line, all while his wife continues to be one of the president’s most staunch defenders.
Trump has returned fire as well. In March, Trump tweeted that George Conway was “VERY jealous of his wife’s success.” Trump called Conway a “loser” and the “husband from hell.”
A total loser! https://t.co/vm3Vv2f9jf— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2019
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. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2019
The Conways’ marriage has been the subject of much media speculation, given they seem to be truly at odds on the political spectrum or at least the Trump spectrum. Ben Terris at the Washington Post in 2018 profiled their relationship, including one instance where Kellyanne Conway attempted, on background, to disparage her husband. Here’s the exchange, from Terris:
Me: You told me you found [George’s tweets] disrespectful.
Kellyanne: It is disrespectful, it’s a violation of basic decency, certainly, if not marital vows . . . as “a person familiar with their relationship.”
Me: No, we’re on the record here. You can’t say after the fact “as someone familiar.”
Kellyanne: I told you everything about his tweets was off the record.
Me: No, that’s not true. That never happened.
Kellyanne: Well, people do see it this way. People do see it that way, I don’t say I do, but people see it that way.
Me: But I’m saying we never discussed everything about his tweets being off the record. There are certain things you said that I put off the record.
Kellyanne: Fine. I’ve never actually said what I think about it and I won’t say what I think about it, which tells you what I think about it.
She probably wasn’t happy with George’s tweets on the Mueller report, either.
Because that’s what they know they do for him. Lie. https://t.co/dI2dJLtidn— George Conway (@gtconway3d) April 18, 2019
news you can use https://t.co/q1E6L9FxFU— George Conway (@gtconway3d) April 19, 2019
Kellyanne Conway appears determined to stick by Trump. After he attacked her husband in March, Conway defended the president in an interview with Politico. “He left it alone for months out of respect for me,” she said. “But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses hi of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?”
The Conway versus Conway production appears likely to continue.
The news moves fast. Catch up at the end of the day: Subscribe to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast, or sign up for our evening email newsletter, Vox Sentences.