Former Trump Adviser Kellyanne Conway and George Conway Are Planning to Divorce
WASHINGTON — Kellyanne Conway, the Republican strategist and longtime adviser to former President Donald J. Trump, and George T. Conway III, the conservative lawyer who became one of Mr. Trump’s fiercest critics, are planning to divorce after 22 years of marriage, people familiar with the arrangement said.
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, like Mary Matalin and James Carville, 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 Mr. Trump, a breakup of a couple who seemed suited for each other — until a president and a Twitter handle got in the way.
Mr. Conway, once a Trump supporter who cried tears of joy on election night in 2016, began publicly rebuking Mr. Trump shortly after he was sworn into office, when he fired James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Conway, who was appalled by the president’s attacks on the rule of law, quickly gained a cult following on Twitter as he ramped up his critiques and regularly diagnosed Mr. Trump with narcissistic personality disorder, declaring him unfit to hold office.
Despite the awkwardness, Ms. Conway maintained her loyalty to Mr. Trump and today 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, Ms. 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 Mr. Conway.
In a text message on Saturday, Ms. Conway denigrated the reporter writing about her divorce for having “the gossip girl beat” and referred to Mr. Conway as “Kellyanne Conway’s Husband.” Ms. 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. Ms. Conway has long maintained that any interest in her husband was part of an effort to undermine the standing of a prominent conservative woman.
Mr. Trump, however, weighed in on his social media network, where he congratulated Ms. Conway on her divorce from her “wacko husband,” whom he described as a “disgusting albatross around her neck.”
Mr. 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 the writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Mr. 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.
Mr. Conway’s critical tweets seemed to particularly get under Mr. Trump’s skin. When he 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. Mr. Trump once logged onto Twitter to refer to Mr. Conway as a “stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!” and railed against him as someone who was “VERY jealous of his wife’s success.”
Mr. 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 Mr. 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,” Mr. 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.”
The couple has four children. When Ms. 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, Ms. Conway wrote that the public spectacle of her marriage prompted Ivanka Trump, Mr. 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,” Ms. Conway wrote. “We never went.”
In her book, she also accused George 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 Clinton who became an unexpected confidante of Mr. Conway’s. “But she needed to leave the White House to have a chance. By then, though, it was too far gone.”
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