11 reasons to dread Kellyanne Conway’s possible return to Trumpworld

11 reasons to dread Kellyanne Conway’s possible return to Trumpworld

Have you heard the good news? Kellyanne Conway is thinking about getting the band back together to help boost Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign! Potential names for this band: The Alternative Beatles. The Bowling Green Day Massacre. Big Head Todd and the Monsters Repeatedly Violate The Hatch Act. Play along if you like.

A new Axios report claims Conway is “weighing an offer to join Trump’s 2024 team, according to a person familiar with her thinking.” Of course, that “person” could be anyone from Satan to Trump to Conway herself. She’s well known for playing footsie with the press, after all. 

Regardless, this potential mustering of hell’s hosts—she’ll presumably have a retinue of demons on hand to schedule interviews and get coffee—got us thinking about her days as a senior counsel to the president, when she somehow managed to stand out as an incorrigible liar in a party that essentially runs 24/7 on bullshit.

So we’ve assembled a countdown of her greatest hits. And boy, is it ever a doozy.

The first item on the list? The greatest Conwayism of all time, of course.

1. Alternative facts.

Right out of the gate, the Trump administration started lying to inflate his ego and assuage his inferiority complex vis-à-vis President Barack Obama. And Conway was right there to help promote his fantasy version of the universe.

In a January 2017 interview on “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd asked her about then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s clearly false statement that Trump’s inauguration crowd was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

Conway obviously couldn’t gainsay Spicer, who was clearly acting on his boss’s behalf, so she thought up a lie, and she thought it up quick.

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving—Sean Spicer, our press secretary—gave alternative facts,” Conway responded.

To his credit, Todd refused to both-sides objective reality, coming up with the only acceptable response: “Alternative facts aren’t facts,” he said, “they are falsehoods.”

That’s true, of course. But to be fair, Conway may have simply been thinking out loud. Because whether you call them “alternative facts” or “falsehoods,” they’ve always been Conway’s bread and butter.

2. The Bowling Green Massacre that never happened.

While “alternative facts” may be Conway’s most famous gaffe-slash-lie, the non-existent Bowling Green Massacre was likely the most fun. But what some still might not know is that it was apparently a carefully crafted lie, not just a slip of the tongue.

On Feb. 2, 2017, Conway came up with her own alternative history during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, citing examples of the kind of terrorist attacks a news executive order would supposedly prevent.

“I bet there was very little coverage—I bet—I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program,” she said, “after two Iraqis came here to this country were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre.”

Of course, as folks were quick to point out, the Bowling Green Massacre is not a thing, and she was widely—and rightly—excoriated for mentioning it.

But if it was just a brain fart, it was a meticulously curated one.

As The Washington Post pointed out at the time, she’d told the same story at least twice before.

While discussing why former president Barack Obama halted refugees from Iraq in 2011, Conway explained to Cosmo on Jan. 29: “He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers’ lives away.”

And she echoed those comments when interviewed by TMZ that same day, as the Daily Beast pointed out Monday afternoon.

Okay, so she fabricated an entire terrorist attack in order to defend Trump’s racist, Islamophobic travel ban. That doesn’t mean she’s racist or anyth …

Oh, shit, what’s this now?

3. She demanded to know a reporter’s ethnicity.

After Trump was widely criticized for telling four congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”—even though three of them are native-born Americans—Conway sought to quell the growing media firestorm. 

But the way she chose to do that was, well, super weird and arguably just as problematic as Trump’s original comment. As The Guardian reported:

“What’s your ethnicity?” Conway snapped back to Andrew Feinberg, a reporter for the website BeltwayBreakfast.com who pressed her on the president’s controversial comments.

When asked by Feinberg why his own ethnicity was relevant to the discussion, Conway shot back: “Because I’m asking you a question.” She also offered that her ancestors were from Ireland and Italy, to which Feinberg replied: “My ethnicity is not relevant to the question I’m asking you.”

No, it’s not. Just as an individual’s religion and race are not relevant to their ability to make a positive contribution to our country. But that’s pretty obvious now, isn’t it?

4. The coronavirus is contained!

In March 2020, as COVID-19 was licking its chops in search of a White House garden party to invade, Conway made a startling claim.

Pressed on earlier comments in which she suggested the Trump administration had effectively contained the virus in the U.S., Conway told CBS News’ Paula Reid, “It is being contained. … Do you not think it’s being contained in this country?”

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Narrator: “It wasn’t.” 

5. Trump’s penchant for not thinking things through is actually a good thing.

In September 2019, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rushed to blame Iran for a drone attack on Saudi oil fields, Conway tried to spin the Trump administration’s general lack of due diligence as a good thing. 

This is why it’s so important to have a president who isn’t a typical politician, because he and his team don’t sit around and say, ‘well, let’s study it, let’s have a commission about it,’” she said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

In other words, act first, fix your facts around the policy later. Which is all we can really ask of the leader of the free world, right?

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6. The Hatch Act.

The Trump administration was pretty lawless throughout its four-year reign of terror. For example, there was that whole “summon a mob to steal the election” thing at the very end there. But one of its most brazen scofflaws was Conway.

In June 2019, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel determined that Conway had repeatedly violated the Hatch Act—which limits the political activities of federal employees—and should be fired. NPR reported:

Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly criticized Democratic candidates in her official capacity in violation of the Hatch Act and should lose her job, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The OSC, which oversees federal personnel issues, issued a stinging report Thursday, calling Conway “a repeat offender.”

“As a highly visible member of the Administration, Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law,” the office wrote to President Trump.

Meanwhile, Conway derided the report as nothing but an attempt to silence her:

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6. Trump’s infamous church photo-op was not a photo-op.

Say, remember that time Trump marched over to a church to have his picture taken while holding a Bible, but never actually stepped foot inside the building? According to Conway, that wasn’t a photo-op. Because it just wasn’t, okay?

US President Donald Trump holds up a Bible outside of St John's Episcopal church across Lafayette Park in Washington, DC on June 1, 2020. - US President Donald Trump was due to make a televised address to the nation on Monday after days of anti-racism protests against police brutality that have erupted into violence..The White House announced that the president would make remarks imminently after he has been criticized for not publicly addressing in the crisis in recent days. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump, taking the opportunity to hold a Bible for the cameras.

Shortly after Trump’s Jesus-pleasin’ stunt, Conway told reporters at a White House press gaggle that there was clearly nothing photo-oppy about it.

“I think the words ‘photo-op’ itself call into question—you’re looking in somebody’s heart and wondering, second-guessing why they would go over there,” Conway said. “Is it a ‘photo-op’ because a photo was taken? While the president of the United States was in front of a church where he went on Inauguration Day? Where every president has gone for more than two centuries?”

Yes, Kellyanne, the reporter was looking into Trump’s heart. They discovered it’s three parts evil and one part curly fries. No love for Christ detected.

7. Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!

If there’s one thing Republicans hate, it’s people who corruptly leverage their proximity to elected officials in order to make money. Assuming none of those officials is Donald Trump, of course.

But while President Joe Biden has clearly violated this sacrosanct wall of separation between private business and government by loaning his son $4,140 to buy a truck, you’ll discover that the Trump family has been pure as the driven snow—as long as you don’t investigate anything they’ve done, of course.

In February 2017, shortly after Trump excoriated Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s clothing line, Conway sought to prop up Ivanka’s beleaguered biz—from the very official press briefing room in the White House—and she used her government-provided megaphone to do so.

“It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it,” Conway said on “Fox & Friends.” “I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”

As Politico reported:

Conway’s remark appears to violate the executive branch’s ban on staff endorsing products or companies. The regulation, from the Office of Government Ethics, also prohibits using public office for private gain of oneself or friends or relatives.

Wait, there was still an Office of Government Ethics during the Trump regime? How adorable.

8. She denied that Trump knew about Stormy Daniels hush money payments.

In a 2020 retrospective on Conway’s White House tenure, columnist Margaret Sullivan, writing for The Washington Post, recalled one of Conway’s biggest, most shameless whoppers:

In an on-air wrangle with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, she denied the known facts about the pre-election hush-money payments made to two women, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, who had been sexually involved with Trump.

“Christopher, in April of 2018, Donald J. Trump, the president, and everybody else were told about the payments,” Conway said. A straight-up lie, since an audio recording from August 2016 made public months earlier showed Trump and his then-fixer/lawyer Michael Cohen discussing one of the payments.

This lie, of course, is relevant to certain events coming up on the, erm, docket.

9. She was (allegedly!) a big leaker and backstabber.

In his 2019 book “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House,” which was excerpted in Vanity Fair, former senior White House official Cliff Sims recalled his time with Conway, and noted how easily and breezily she trashed her colleagues:

Over the course of 20 minutes or so, she was having simultaneous conversations with no fewer than a half­-dozen reporters, most of them from outlets the White House frequently trashed for publishing “fake news.” Jour­nalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, and Bloomberg were all popping up on the screen. And these weren’t policy conversations, or attempts to fend off attacks on the president. As I sat there trying to type, she bashed Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, and Sean Spicer, all by name.

According to Sims, Conway didn’t spare her boss, either. While helping Conway draft a statement contradicting “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski’s contention that Conway spoke out of both sides of her mouth when it came to Trump, Sims was apparently floored by her hypocrisy.

She also recounted private conversations she’d had with the president, during which, at least in her telling, she’d convinced him to see things her way, which she said was a challenge when you’re deal­ing with someone so unpredictable and unrestrained. She wasn’t totally trashing the president, at least as the Morning Joe crew described it, but she definitely wasn’t painting him in the most favorable light. She was talking about him like a child she had to set straight. I was sitting there, watching this, totally bewildered. I was supposed to be writing a statement, defending her against accusations that she had done almost exactly what I was watch­ing her do that very moment.

10. ‘This is COVID-1, not COVID-19.’

This one you can probably chalk up to gobsmacking ignorance instead of rank dishonesty.

During an April 2020 “Fox & Friends” interview, Conway trashed the World Health Organization for presumably not knowing what it was talking about.

PolitiFact:

In a swipe at the World Health Organization, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway made a misleading claim about COVID-19, implying that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus was so named because it’s the latest in a string of similar coronaviruses.

“Some of the scientists and doctors say there could be other strains later on, this could come back in the fall in a limited way,” Conway said in an April 15 “Fox & Friends” interview. “This is COVID-19, not COVID-1, folks. And so you would think that people charged with the World Health Organization facts and figures would be on top of that.”

The comment came one day after President Donald Trump announced his intention to halt U.S. funding to the WHO and review its handling of the virus.

Of course, COVID-19 was so named because it first emerged in 2019, not because it was the 18th sequel to the original coronavirus.

11. What white nationalism?

Sometimes Trump is so off-the-charts awful and offensive, even old pros like Conway have a tough time spinning his grotesque hot takes.

Such was the case in April 2019, when Conway dodged CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s questions about Trump’s views on white nationalism in the wake of a gunman’s deadly attack on a California synagogue

Via Media Matters:

TAPPER: My question was, does President Trump think white nationalism is a growing threat around the world, because he said six weeks ago, “I don’t really”? And it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. There are people in law enforcement and elsewhere who think, actually, white nationalism and white supremacy is a growing threat. And now we’ve had the second fatal synagogue shooting in six months.

CONWAY: And there are many growing threats.

TAPPER: I’m not saying it’s president Trump’s fault.

CONWAY: And that’s one of them. I think there’s anti-Christianity. That’s why the Sri Lankans were gunned down. They’re not Easter worshipers, Obama and Hillary Clinton. They are Christians.

Well, of course Trump doesn’t think white nationalism is a growing threat! Not to him, anyway. Stop asking!

Actually, that’s good advice for reporters in general. Stop asking Kellyanne Conway anything—ever. Unless you’re particularly fond of gaslighting, that is.

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Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link.

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