Trump: George Conway ‘A Wack Job’

President Trump on Wednesday escalated his attacks on George Conway, calling him a “whack job” who is doing a “disservice” to his wife, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

“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!”

[The Hill]

Trump Trashes Kellyanne Conway’s Husband: ‘He’s Just Trying to Get Publicity For Himself’

During his Friday pool spread with the White House press corps, President Trump took shots at Kellyanne Conway‘s husband for saying it was “unconstitutional” of him to appoint Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general.

George Conway co-wrote a New York Times piece on Thursday which not only argued that Whitaker’s appointment was “illegal,” but also that anything he tries to do in his new position is constitutionally “invalid.” When Trump was asked about this, the president directed the question to Conway’s wife while writing him off as a publicity-seeker.

“He’s just trying to get publicity for himself,” Trump said. “Why don’t you do this, why don’t you ask Kellyanne that question, all right? She might know him better than me. I really don’t know the guy.”

Fun fact: reporters have tried asking Mrs. Conway about her husband’s regular criticisms of Trump, to which she reacted with deep displeasure.

[Mediaite]

Kellyanne Conway cites ‘anti-religiosity’ in Pittsburgh shooting

Kellyanne Conway cited “anti-religiosity” on Monday in discussing the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Conway’s remarks during a discussion on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” came less than 72 hours after the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. The alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, targeted Jews online and made anti-Semitic comments during the shooting, law enforcement officials said.

“The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue and funny, to make fun of anybody of faith. To constantly be making fun of people who expresses religion,” said Conway, who serves as counselor to President Donald Trump.

“The late night comedians. The un-funny people on TV shows. It’s always anti-religious. And remember, these people were gunned down in their place of worship’,” Conway continued. “As were the people in South Carolina several years ago. And they were there because they’re people of faith and it’s that faith that needs to bring us together.”

As the weather gets colder and furry intruders start looking for shelter, the only animals people want in their houses are their family pets.

“This is no time to be driving God out of the public square. No time to be making fun of people.”

Conway’s comments, which went unchallenged on the program, were made just before she told reporters that she was “very happy” that Trump condemned anti-Semitism following the massacre, which left 11 dead. The President’s combative rhetoric has been scrutinized in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting as well as last week’s potential explosive devices that were sent to several of Trump’s political opponents.

“I was very happy he came out with very strong words over the weekend though, condemning anti-Semitism and asking the country to rise above hate and evil and unify,” she said outside the White House on Monday.

Conway was referring to comments Trump made on Saturday in Illinois as he responded to news of the shooting. “It looks definitely like it’s an anti-Semitic crime, and that is something you wouldn’t believe could still be going on,” he said at the time.

Asked if Trump would denounce white nationalists, Conway said, “Please don’t lose the lesson of today which is anti-Semitism in all forms. It is evil and it still is being perpetrated around this world. Please remember the 11 who were murdered because of their faith.”

Conway’s husband, George Conway, a frequent public critic of the President despite his wife’s position, also weighed in on Monday morning. Instead of directly commenting on the matter, Conway tweeted a quote from a Washington Post op-ed published on Sunday by Patti Davis, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan.

“This president will never offer comfort, compassion or empathy to a grieving nation. It’s not in him. When questioned after a tragedy, he will always be glib and inappropriate. So I have a wild suggestion: Let’s stop asking him. His words are only salt in our wounds,” the tweet read, citing Davis’ op-ed.

[CNN]

Kellyanne Conway Defends Trump’s Mockery of Dr. Ford: ‘Pointing Out Factual Inconsistencies’

White House special advisor Kellyanne Conway ran defense for President Trump on Wednesday after he seemed to mock Christine Blasey Ford‘s misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Conway spoke to Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith on Fox News, and the discussion started off with the condemnation Trump has received for his rally remarks last night. Conway argued that Trump was merely highlighting the argument that no evidence or new witnesses have turned up in support Ford’s claims ever since they became public.

“We are not managing the scope, the witnesses, anything like that. At the same time, the president is pointing out factual inconsistencies. By Ford’s own testimony there are gaps in her memory, there are facts that she cannot remember. How she got home, how she got there. Where the house was, what the date was. If those pretending they want to find the truth, don’t say we can’t find the truth when she doesn’t know all the facts. That’s part of the testimony she put in under sworn statements”.

Conway went on to argue that the Democrats have weaponized the #MeToo movement against Kavanaugh, somewhat suggesting that they only care as long as they are the victims. She also bragged about how many likes Trump got on a tweet of his shortly after Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“That’s a lot of likes for a presidential tweet,” she touted.

[Mediaite]

Kellyanne Conway Claims CNN ‘Interfered in the Election’

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has accused CNN of interfering in the 2016 presidential election by reporting on several women’s misconduct allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump. In a tense Thursday-night interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo, Conway repeatedly dodged questions about new evidence that Trump lied to the public when he claimed to have no knowledge of a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Instead, Conway railed against CNN for its “screaming graphics” and “phony polls” during the election. “Every single night, CNN was featuring another woman with another story. You played the Access Hollywood tape constantly, thinking it would hurt the candidate, he would never be elected,” she said. “CNN interfered in the election daily,” Conway said, by reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump by multiple women. She went on to blast the network for focusing on the Russia investigation, supposedly at the expense of covering the opioid crisis. “Zero [people] died because of impeachment. Zero [people] died because of collusion,” she said.

[The Daily Beast]

Media

Trump aide Conway says media should show ‘more respect’ after White House bars reporter from event

Just hours after the White House banned a CNN reporter from attending a press event with President Donald Trump, adviser Kellyanne Conway on Thursday berated the news media, claiming that “shouting” and “pouting” reporters should show more “civility” and “respect” toward the administration.

When asked Thursday why Kaitlan Collins had been booted from a Rose Garden event a day earlier after she peppered the president with questions on Russia and Michael Cohen, Conway, counselor to Trump, responded that unruly reporters were to blame for the incident.

“I think that the question isn’t are the press allowed to ask questions, this president obviously isn’t afraid of questions. We answer them routinely,” she told reporters gathered on the White House lawn. “And that incident aside, just being polite to the process, to the presidency, to the protocol, and not shouting questions long after the press has politely been asked to leave, long after you’ve had opportunity to be there with the president, I think it’s a very reasonable request.”

“And that incident aside, I’m just speaking more broadly, the civility that you all call for sometimes when you’re in your broadcasts, I think it should start here at the White House, and just show a little bit more respect,” Conway continued.

“I think it’s the shouting and the pouting long after the press corps has been politely asked to leave the room,” she said.

Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive who Trump tapped earlier this month as his deputy chief of staff for communications, also weighed in, casting doubt on the way the incident had been portrayed in the news media and telling reporters to ask Collins if anyone from the White House had used the word “ban” when not allowing her in.

Collins had served as the network television “pool reporter” during an Oval Office photo op with Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Wednesday, meaning she was asking questions on behalf of several TV news organizations.

[NBC News]

Kellyanne Conway cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars with trips on private jets

Kellyanne Conway traveled at least four times at taxpayer expense with former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — and congressional Democrats want an explanation.

Price resigned Sept. 29 over his use of taxpayer-funded private jets during his seven months in office, and he has repaid a fraction so far of his travel expenses, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

The Department of Treasury has received three checks from Price, who now works as an adviser for Jackson Healthcare, totaling $59,389.97 as reimbursement, according to Cummings.

HHS documents confirm Conway, the former Trump campaign manager and now a senior White House adviser, traveled along with Price at least four times between May and September at a cost to taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars.

Conway was joined on at least one of those flights by her staff, and she and Price also traveled with other unspecified White House officials.

The cost of those flights to taxpayers was at least $59,101.35, according to Cummings.

Other travel expenses were not provided to the committee.

[Raw Story]

Kellyanne Conway found to have violated Hatch Act

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) informed the Trump administration Tuesday.

Appearing in her official capacity, Conway endorsed and advocated against political candidates, the watchdog said, referring its findings to President Trump “for appropriate disciplinary action.”

The violations occurred during two television appearances in 2017, one on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” and one on CNN’s “New Day.”

“While the Hatch Act allows federal employees to express their views about candidates and political issues as private citizens, it restricts employees from using their official government positions for partisan political purposes, including by trying to influence partisan elections,” OSC says in its report.

“Ms. Conway’s statements during the ‘Fox & Friends’ and ‘New Day’ interviews impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.”

The report goes on to state that Conway received “significant training” on the Hatch Act and possible violations. OSC says it gave Conway, a former GOP pollster who served as Trump’s campaign manager, the opportunity to respond as part of its report, but she did not.

The White House rejected the report’s findings, saying “Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate” in a statement provided to reporters.

“In fact, Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act — as she twice declined to respond to the host’s specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gildley said.

Ahead of December’s special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate, Conway made remarks critical of then-candidate Doug Jones in his race against former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

During her initial Fox appearance, Conway blasted Jones as “weak on crime” and “weak on borders,” before declining to specifically endorse Moore when asked.

“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” Conway said in November.

“So, vote Roy Moore?” host Brian Kilmeade interjected.

“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Conway responded.

In her CNN appearance in December, Conway went further, saying that Trump “doesn’t want a liberal Democrat representing Alabama” in the Senate.

“The only endorsement that matters in this race is President Trump’s,” Conway said the week before the vote. “And he came out questioning the ideology and the vote of Doug Jones. He’ll be a reliable vote for tax hikes. He’ll be a reliable vote against border security. He’ll be a reliable vote against national security and keeping [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS in retreat. He’ll be the reliable vote against the Second Amendment and against life.”

At the time, former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub called the comments a “slam dunk” violation of the Hatch Act.

“The willfulness of Conway’s violation and her openly expressed disdain for efforts to hold her accountable for complying with ethics requirements make clear that anything less than removal from the federal service or a lengthy unpaid suspension will not deter future misconduct on her part,” Shaub said.

Shaub filed two complaints with OSC over the interviews.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah defended Conway last year after initial criticism.

“Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way,” Shah said in a statement.

“She was speaking about issues and her support for the president’s agenda. This election is for the people of Alabama to decide,” he added.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) demanded the president issue “swift and serious” punishment for the violations.

“The President must take swift and serious disciplinary action against Ms. Conway. Anything else sets a terrible example,” Cummings said in a statement.

Hatch Act violations committed by White House staff are typically handled directly by the president. Consequences for violating the law range from an official reprimand to a civil penalty of up to $1,000. Other penalties include suspension, termination or even debarment from federal employment for up to five years.

[The Hill]

Update

The White House said on Tuesday that counselor Kellyanne Conway did not violate the Hatch Act after the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) told the Trump administration she was found in violation.

“Kellyanne Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate. She simply expressed the president’s obvious position that he have people in the House and Senate, who support his agenda,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Trump’s Plan to Solve the Opioid Crisis Might Involve Executing Drug Dealers

While signing a bill that aims to combat the opioid crisis last month, President Trump hinted that he’d come up with the solution to the complex problem, but couldn’t talk about it.

“There is an answer. I think I actually know the answer, but I’m not sure the country is ready for it yet,” Trump said. “Does anybody know what I mean? I think so.”

No one knew what he meant. “Yeah, I wondered about that,” said Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who was at the signing. “I didn’t follow up and ask.”

Many dismissed the comment as more of Trump’s regular, incoherent ramblings. However, now it seems the president may actually have a secret plan to fight the opioid epidemic, beyond hiring a 24-year-old ingenue as his deputy drug czar and an ad campaign that was supposed to launch during the Super Bowl but didn’t come together in time. Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports that he’s been telling friends for months that drug dealers should face the death penalty, citing policies in Singapore and the Philippines.

“He says that a lot,” said a source. “He says, ‘When I ask the prime minister of Singapore do they have a drug problem [the prime minister replies,] ‘No. Death penalty’.”

Trump is reportedly convinced that the key to ending America’s drug problems is making dealers fear for their lives and kids fear that even trying drugs will kill them — but he’s also acknowledged that the U.S. probably won’t pass a law mandating that all drug dealers be executed.

Kellyanne Conway, who is leading the administration’s anti-drug efforts, told Swan that Trump’s plan is more nuanced. “The president makes a distinction between those that are languishing in prison for low-level drug offenses and the kingpins hauling thousands of lethal doses of fentanyl into communities, that are responsible for many casualties in a single weekend,” she said.

In lieu of mass executions, the White House may push to toughen drug-sentencing laws. Per Axios:

Trump may back legislation requiring a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl. Currently, you have to deal forty grams to trigger the mandatory five-year sentence. (The DEA estimates that as little as two milligrams is enough to kill people.)

Singapore has some of the strictest drug laws in the world. Police can perform random drug tests and those who test positive can face years-long sentences. Those caught with more than a few grams of certain drugs are presumed to be trafficking, and in higher quantities offenders are sentenced to death. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte instituted a brutal crackdown on both drug dealers and drug users in 2016. While the government claims that fewer than 4,000 suspects have been killed, Human Rights Watch puts the number at more than 12,000.

Trump has made it clear that unlike his predecessor, he has a cosy relationship with Duterte. He invited him to visit the White House, ignored questions about human-rights abuses during their first meeting in the Philippines, and congratulated him for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” during a phone call. It was assumed that this was all part of Trump’s general admiration for authoritarian leaders, but perhaps he’s been taking more specific policy inspiration.

[New York Magazine]

Reality

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted.” The general principles the United States Supreme Court relied on to decide whether or not a particular punishment was cruel and unusual were determined by Justice William Brennan.[4] In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, “There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’.”

  • The “essential predicate” is “that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity,” especially torture.
  • “A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.” (Furman v. Georgia temporarily suspended capital punishment for this reason.)
  • “A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society.”
  • “A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary.”

And he added: “The function of these principles, after all, is simply to provide means by which a court can determine whether a challenged punishment comports with human dignity. They are, therefore, interrelated, and, in most cases, it will be their convergence that will justify the conclusion that a punishment is “cruel and unusual.” The test, then, will ordinarily be a cumulative one: if a punishment is unusually severe, if there is a strong probability that it is inflicted arbitrarily, if it is substantially rejected by contemporary society, and if there is no reason to believe that it serves any penal purpose more effectively than some less severe punishment, then the continued infliction of that punishment violates the command of the Clause that the State may not inflict inhuman and uncivilized punishments upon those convicted of crimes.”

Continuing, he wrote that he expected that no state would pass a law obviously violating any one of these principles, so court decisions regarding the Eighth Amendment would involve a “cumulative” analysis of the implication of each of the four principles. In this way the United States Supreme Court “set the standard that a punishment would be cruel and unusual [,if] it was too severe for the crime, [if] it was arbitrary, if it offended society’s sense of justice, or if it was not more effective than a less severe penalty.”

Kellyanne Conway Says Sen. Gillibrand, Who Was First Elected in ’06, ‘Protected’ Clinton During Impeachment

Following White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation amid allegations that he abused two ex-wives, President Donald Trump told reporters that he wished Porter well and that Porter has said the accusations are false. He also stated that Porter was “very sad” over the situation and hoped the ex-aide had a “wonderful career.”

During today’s broadcast of ABC’s This Week, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was pressed on the president’s response to the controversy and his weekend tweet seemingly doubling down on it in which he cited due process. Host George Stephanopoulos brought up reaction from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who said that Trump has shown that he “doesn’t value women.”

Conway brushed off Gillibrand’s criticism by invoking President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions with women and late ’90s impeachment. After noting that Trump’s accusers had “their day” when they were “trotted out” on television, Conway said the following:

“I don’t need a lecture from Kirsten Gillibrand on anybody else who protected and defended and harbored a sitting president who had sexual relations in the Oval Office and was impeached for lying. I don’t need a lecture from her or anybody else.”

Only one problem with Conway’s counterpoint to Gillibrand — Gillibrand was first elected to Congress in 2006 and didn’t actually get to Washington until January 2007, years after Clinton was impeached over the Lewinsky affair. This fact wasn’t lost on some media figures.

[Mediaite]

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