As senior diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent gave their testimony before House investigators weighing the president’s impeachment on Wednesday, the husband of one of Donald Trump’s most prominent advisers made a rare appearance on television to tear into the commander-in-chief.
Conservative Washington attorney George Conway, married to White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, has won himself a large following on social media as one of President Trump’s most outspoken critics in recent months, regularly taking his wife’s employer to task on Twitter or in the pages of The Atlantic and risking his own happy home life for the cause.
With Capitol Hill in a state of heightened excitement as Taylor and Kent arrived to take part in the first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry, Conway appeared on MSNBC with Nicolle Wallace and Brian Williams to discuss a solemn day for American democracy.
He did not hold back.
“The problem with Donald Trump is, he always sees himself first. Trump is all about Trump and that’s why it was inevitable he would get himself into the soup once again,” Conway told Wallace. “That’s what this is all about. He was using the power of the presidency in its most unchecked area – foreign affairs – to advance his own personal interests as opposed to the country’s.”
Asked about his reaction to the Republican Party’s attempts to defend the president, Conway answered: “I’m horrified, I’m appalled… If you had told me three years ago it wouldn’t have come to this, I wouldn’t have believed it… I don’t think I could have imagined a president, any president, engaging in this sort of conduct.”
The attorney also had some advice for the GOP: “Take that Republican hat off and look at it neutrally. Or look at what you would have done if Donald Trump were a Democrat. Would you be making these ridiculous arguments about process? If Barack Obama had done this, they’d be out for blood and they’d be right.”
Conway returned to his pet theme – that Trump is unfit to govern because his judgement is impaired by undiagnosed narcissistic personality disorder – giving other recent scandals as examples.
“Trump always puts himself first,” he repeated. “You saw it with the Doral – wanting to have these foreign leaders meet at the Doral. You see it with the Mueller investigation. The Mueller investigation was about what Russia… it wasn’t really about Trump, as such, but because of Trump being Trump he made it about himself.
“It was really stupid for him to do that. It didn’t have to be about Trump but, because he’s so self-obsessed, it became about Trump because he tried to quash the investigation. If he’d just shut up about it and not tweeted ‘witch hunt’ 600 times and not just played golf for two years there wouldn’t have been a whole volume two of the Mueller investigation showing that he had obstructed justice,” Conway continued.
He wasn’t finished there, concluding: “The point there is, he was trying to stop an investigation that was looking into what Russia had done to the United States. His duty as president was to stop what Russia was doing to the United States. He did not give a hoot about that. That, to my mind, was also an impeachable offence. Frankly, just as bad as what we’re talking about here.”
Wallace went on to ask Conway why he had chosen to come forward to speak out against the president.
“I don’t frankly want to be on television,” he answered. “But I just don’t get why people can’t see this and why people are refusing to see this. It’s appalling to me.”
Kellyanne Conway has been extremely reluctant to discuss her husband’s anti-Trump activism, recently making headlines herself for threatening Washington Examiner journalist Caitlin Yelik when she asked about him over the phone.
“If you’re going to cover my personal life, then we’re welcome to do the same around here,” Ms Conway was heard to say in an audio track released by the reporter and her paper. “If it has nothing to do with my job, which it doesn’t, that’s obvious, then we’re either going to expect you to cover everybody’s personal life or we’re going to start covering them over here.”
Quizzed by reporters on 25 October, Trump’s adviser was unrepentant about insisting her husband was off limits: “It’s not a threat. I never threatened her... Don’t use that word if it’s not true... If I threaten somebody, you’ll know it. OK?”
George Conway is not likely to fall silent any time soon.
His Twitter bio lists him as a “windmill cancer survivor” and has recently been amended to incorporate a quote attributed to ex-national security adviser John Bolton that emerged during Russia expert Fiona Hill’s deposition to the inquiry.
Conway is emphatically “not part of whatever drug deal [Gordon] Sondland and [Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up,” it states.