Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman from Illinois and a Tea Party firebrand, has made no secret of his distaste for President Donald Trump.
On Sunday, Walsh announced that he will run against Trump in the 2020 Republican primary. And according to The New York Times, Walsh is trying to recruit George Conway, a conservative lawyer and fierce Trump critic, to work in a senior role on his 2020 campaign.
The wrinkle? Conway’s wife, Kellyanne, is Trump’s White House counselor and also managed his 2016 campaign.
The Times reported that Walsh and Conway met on Thursday and discussed the former’s campaign strategy going forward, after which Walsh asked Conway if he would join the operation. Conway reportedly told Walsh he would think about it but did not commit to anything concrete.
“I think Walsh’s plan to attack Trump for his dishonesty, amorality, instability, and incompetence is absolutely the right approach, and I’ll do whatever I can to help,” Conway said in a statement to The Times.
Indeed, Conway’s own rise to internet fame stems from his scathing critiques of White House dysfunction and Trump’s mental state.
Earlier this week, when Trump called himself “the chosen one,” Conway said the remark was further evidence that Trump is not mentally fit to serve as president.
“So, Mr. Vice President, members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, what’s it going to take for you all to acknowledge what you and we all know: that the President of the United States is mentally unstable and unfit to serve?” he tweeted. He added, “To @WhiteHouse Staff: Seriously, it’s time to call these guys. Time to get him in the chopper up to Bethesda.”
Last month, after Trump attacked four minority Democratic congresswomen and told them to “go back” to the “crime infested” countries they came from (three of them were born in the US and all four are citizens), Conway wrote in the Washington Post that the president’s comment was “racist to the core” and “beyond the bounds of human decency.”
Last November, after Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker to be the acting attorney general after ousting Jeff Sessions, Conway and the former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal wrote in The Times that Trump’s actions were blatantly unconstitutional.
Conway was under consideration to be the US solicitor general before Trump selected Noel Francisco for the position. Conway was later considered to be the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division at the Justice Department. But he passed on the role after Trump fired then FBI director James Comey and the bureau’s Russia investigation picked up steam.
Last year, Conway said another reason he did not join the Trump administration is that it is “like a s—show in a dumpster fire.”
Trump also pulled no punches and lashed out at Conway on Twitter, calling him “Mr. Kellyanne Conway” and a “stone cold LOSER & a husband from hell!”
In a Washington Post profile last year, Conway said he regretted introducing his wife to Trump.
George suggested that if Trump and Kellyanne were ever to be forced out of office — a notion he reportedly had no qualms with — it would be the fault of the president.
“If there’s an issue,” George told The Post, “it’s because she’s in that job, for that man.”
“If my wife were the counselor to the CEO of Pepsi and I had a problem with her boss, I would simply drink my Coke and keep my mouth shut,” George said. “If the president were simply mediocre or even bad, I’d have nothing to say. This is much different.”
“I’m just saddened by how things turned out,” he added.
Kellyanne said she found her husband’s disparaging comments about Trump to be “disrespectful.”
“I feel there’s a part of him that thinks I chose Donald Trump over him,” Kellyanne told The Post. “Which is ridiculous. One is my work and one is my marriage.”
Later in the interview, Kellyanne said George’s comments about Trump violated their “marriage vows” but asked to be quoted as “a person familiar with their relationship” instead of as herself.
The reporter reminded her that they were speaking on the record and that he wouldn’t publish her criticisms of her husband on background, after which Kellyanne tried to backtrack, saying, “People do see it that way, I don’t say I do, but people do see it that way.”