“I don’t know him. He’s a whack job, there’s no question about it,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before traveling to Ohio.
The president added that Conway’s Twitter attacks are “doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.”
“Kellyanne is a wonderful woman and I call him Mr. Kellyanne,” Trump continued, repeating what he appears to believe is an insult to refer to Conway by his wife’s first name.
“It isn’t—except perhaps to the extremely juvenile and boorish,” Conway responded to a reporter who asked why it is an insult. “What I really wouldn’t want to be called is “Individual-[ ].”
Federal prosecutors made apparent references to Trump as “Individual-1” in its indictment of former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
The comments came just hours after Trump tweeted that Conway is a “stone cold LOSER” and a “husband from hell” who is “jealous of his wife’s success.”
“You. Are. Nuts,” Conway tweeted in response before repeating his claim that the president suffers from mental illness or a personality disorder. “You seem determined to prove my point. Good for you! #NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder.”
This week’s back-and-forth between Trump and George Conway has elevated what had previously been a family feud watched by Washington insiders into the mainstream consciousness.
Kellyanne Conway defended the president’s attacks on her husband, telling Politico that Trump is within his rights to respond when accused of having mental problems.
“He left it alone for months out of respect for me,” Conway said. “But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?”
Despite Trump’s claim he does not know George Conway, the two men do have a personal history that pre-dates their Twitter feud.
Trump considered tapping Conway, a high-powered appellate lawyer, to lead the Justice Department’s civil division in 2017 but Conway said he took himself out of consideration, citing the president’s attacks on the department over the Russia investigation.
In a 2006 letter obtained by The Washington Post, Trump praised Conway’s legal skills used in a dispute at Trump World Tower in New York.
“I wanted to thank you for your wonderful assistance in ridding Trump World Tower of some very bad people,” Trump to Conway. “What I was most impressed with was how quickly you were able to comprehend a very bad situation.”
Trump added that Conway had “a truly great voice,” which he said is “certainly not a bad asset for a top trial lawyer!”