Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and George Conway are divorcing
March 4, 2023 Updated Sat., March 4, 2023 at 9:19 p.m.
WASHINGTON – Kellyanne Conway, a Republican strategist and longtime adviser to former President Donald Trump, and George Conway, a conservative lawyer who became one of Trump’s fiercest critics, confirmed that they are divorcing after 22 years of marriage.
The development, reported earlier by the New York Post, surprised few people in Washington, who for four years of the Trump presidency were bewildered by the sometimes publicly hostile dynamic between the onetime Republican power couple. The animosity on display made it apparent that this was not a D.C. odd couple for the Trump era, as Mary Matalin and James Carville were in the Clinton years, but a unit more seriously threatened by their political disagreements.
The public unraveling of the Conways was viewed as yet another casualty of an association with Trump, a breakup of a couple who seemed suited for each other – until a president and a Twitter handle got in the way.
In a joint statement released late Saturday, the couple said they were in the “final stages of an amicable divorce” and that they remained “united as parents” to their four children. They also asked for privacy.
George Conway, once a Trump supporter who cried tears of joy on election night in 2016, began publicly rebuking Trump shortly after he was sworn into office, when he fired James Comey, the director of the FBI. Appalled by what he viewed as the president’s attacks on the rule of law, George Conway quickly gained a cult following on Twitter as he ramped up his critiques. He regularly asserted that Trump had narcissistic personality disorder and declared him unfit to hold office.
Despite the awkwardness, Kellyanne Conway maintained her loyalty to Trump and remains in frequent contact with him as he plans his 2024 presidential campaign. She is also a contributor on Fox News.
During her years in the White House, when she served as counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway tried to tamp down interest in her husband and would often berate reporters who dared to ask or write about her marriage or about George Conway.
In a text message Saturday, Kellyanne Conway denigrated the reporter writing about her divorce for having “the gossip girl beat” and referred to George Conway as “Kellyanne Conway’s Husband.” Kellyanne Conway added that he was often quoted in news stories despite having “no expertise,” implying that journalists did so just to put her in an awkward position. She has long maintained that any interest in her husband was part of an effort to undermine the standing of a prominent conservative woman.
Trump, however, weighed in on his social media network, where he congratulated her on her divorce from her “wacko husband,” whom he described as a “disgusting albatross around her neck.”
George Conway replied, telling the president that he was “looking forward to seeing you in New York at E. Jean’s trial next month! Hugs and kisses,” a reference to writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s and filed suit against him last year under a New York law giving a one-time extension of the statute of limitations in such cases.
George Conway’s critical posts on Twitter seemed to particularly get under Trump’s skin. When Trump was president and his tweets still dictated news cycles, their testy exchanges helped elevate the Conway drama in a White House that often revolved around personalities and personal disputes. Trump once logged on to Twitter to refer to George Conway as a “stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!” and railed against him as someone who was “VERY jealous of his wife’s success.”
George Conway has long dismissed the idea that he somehow capitalized off his wife’s reputation and has said that in the course of a long marriage, it is hard to separate out which partner is responsible for the other’s fortune or fame. He has told friends that he felt he had no option but to put everything on the line to fight Trump, motivated at least in part by a sense of guilt by association.
“The way we structured our lives before the campaign, it enabled her to build her business so she could become the campaign manager,” George Conway, who was previously a partner at the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, said in an interview in 2019. “I helped in ways that enabled her to go off and be the campaign manager, and go off to the White House in the spring of 2017.”
When Kellyanne Conway finally left the White House in August 2020, she said it was to spend more time with her teenage children. “For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama,” she said.
In her memoir, “Here’s the Deal,” released last year, she wrote that the public spectacle of her marriage prompted Ivanka Trump, Trump’s eldest daughter, to at one point hand her a Post-it note with “the names of two local doctors who specialized in couples therapy.”
“After I showed George the names, he rejected one and said a halfhearted ‘OK’ to the other while looking at his phone,” Kellyanne Conway wrote. “We never went.”
In her book, she also accused her husband of being taken in by the attention and said he was essentially “cheating by tweeting.”
“It seemed the flood of reaction and attention he was receiving was magnetic and irresistible,” she said.
While the disagreements between them eventually became insurmountable, the Conways may have stood a chance to remain together longer than many in Washington assumed.
“George believed the marriage could be saved,” said Philippe Reines, a former top adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton who became an unexpected confidant of George Conway’s. “But she needed to leave the White House to have a chance. By then, though, it was too far gone.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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