“‘Mr. Trump’ had to come first in the mock PAC poll,” Conway recounted that Cohen told him in a phone call. “He repeated himself. Mr. Trump had to come first.”
Four years later, firmly ensconced in the White House as Trump’s top adviser as president, Conway said she found herself faced with surrealism again, when Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, handed her a post-it with “the names of two local doctors specializing in couples therapy.
The marriage between Conway and her husband had burst into public view when George T. Conway III began attacking Trump on Twitter, and Conway said Ivanka was responding to her own openness about seeking professional support.
“I noticed she avoided putting that in a text or email. I appreciated the information and her thoughtfulness and wanted to pursue it,” Conway recalled. “After showing the names to George , he rejected one and said a half-hearted “ok” to the other while looking at his phone. We never went.
These and other scenes are part of Conway’s nearly 500-page new memoir, “Here’s the Deal,” which The Washington Post obtained ahead of publication Tuesday.
Part personal chronicle and part political journey, Conway’s book is filled with the kind of barbed one-liners and witticisms she spewed out on cable news on Trump’s behalf, becoming – from one’s perspective – more and more famous or infamous.
Unlike many other Trump-focused tomes in the post-presidency era, Conway did not seek to write a scathing narrative, in which she distances herself from the president or the administration she once served.
Her memoir is peppered with references to ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ – a term she uses to refer to the media and the political left, which she says were unable to come to terms with the reality that Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016. Conway is also among the relatively small group of staffers who managed to leave the White House still in Trump’s inner circle.
Her book goes along the same lines, offering what she sees as a frank assessment of some of her colleagues in the White House and the media — both positive and negative — but never confusing Trump himself.
Conway reserves some of her harshest criticism for Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband and a senior Trump adviser, whom she describes as “shrewd and calculating”; “a man of knowledgeable nods, questioning looks and parallel inquiries”; and someone who, as the president’s son-in-law, knew that “no matter how disastrous a personnel change or legislative attempt may be, he was unlikely to be held responsible.”
“There was no subject he considered beyond his expertise. Criminal justice reform. Peace in the Middle East. The southern and northern borders. Veterans and opioids. Big Tech and Small Business,” she writes. “If any Martian attacks had fallen on the radar, he would gladly have added them to his ever-bulky portfolio. He allegedly made sure you knew he exiled the Martians to Uranus and insisted he didn’t care who was credited with it. He misinterpreted the Constitution on a crucial point, thinking that any power not granted to the federal government was reserved for him.”
As an example of what she calls Kushner’s “plans and dreams,” she recounts later in the book a scuttled immigration deployment plan in which Kushner suggested Trump “go to Ellis Island, where he would stand at the foot of the Statue of Liberty to conduct a naturalization ceremony.
Conway says her tension with Kushner came, in part, because he accused her of leaking to the media a way to undermine his credibility with Trump — a charge she denies.
A Kushner ally said his portfolio includes some of the administration’s biggest hits: a criminal justice reform bill, the USMCA trade deal, the Abraham Accords in the Middle East and the Operation Warp Speed coronavirus vaccination effort.
Conway also fleetingly takes aim at Paul Manafort, the short-lived chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Manafort, she writes, “literally fell asleep during my PowerPoint on how to close the gender gap with Hillary.” (It must have been on Ukrainian time.).
And Conway describes Reince Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chairman who served as Trump’s first chief of staff, as “completely conservative but not remotely MAGA,” a reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
Conway portrays Priebus as fundamentally misunderstanding the Trump movement; When Conway pressed a skeptical Priebus to allow a number of administration officials to address CPAC, the annual conservative gathering, he told her, “It’s because you like crazy people, Kellyanne, and they love you,” she wrote.
Priebus had spoken at CPAC nearly every year since he became RNC chairman, including in 2017, when he and Stephen K. Bannon, a former top adviser to Trump, addressed the assembly. Priebus declined to comment.
She also isn’t pulling any punches at much of Trump’s White House team of coronavirus experts — especially Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. – which she describes as slow to grasp the scale of the virus in its early stages. days, as well as wear masks in public but not always in private.
“No mask was standard fare in the White House Situation Room, where Dr. Fauci was more likely to wear ‘Dr. Fauci’ socks than a mask,” she wrote. “Then, like magic, when D. Myles Cullen, the vice president’s photographer, walked into the room, masks suddenly appeared.”
Fauci did not respond to a request for comment.
The book also offers a more personal side to Conway, as well as his relationship with Trump. She writes that she grew up in a household of Italian Catholic women, after her father left when she was 3, without providing alimony or alimony.
“I would be raised by strong women,” she wrote, explaining her reaction when Kushner, Priebus and Bannon gave a chilly reception after learning that Trump had asked her to join his administration as an adviser to the president. “As long as I can remember, I’ve bullied jealous little boys.”
Later in the book — in a section on Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s controversial confirmation hearings, and without going into detail — Conway also shares that, “unbeknownst to the public,” she was “victim of sexual assault”.
Trump has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by more than a dozen women. During his 2016 campaign, an “Access Hollywood” video emerged of him bragging about groping women against their will.
Conway, however, portrays Trump as a feminist who repeatedly supported and promoted her, allowing her to go down in history as the first woman to manage a winning presidential campaign.
“Donald Trump lifted me up and empowered me at the top of his campaign, helping me break glass ceilings that had never even been touched before,” she wrote, adding that “feminists in anger” should “have at least once in their life a daughter”. boss as generous, respectful, engaging and empowering as Donald Trump was to me and my other female colleagues.
Themes of family and motherhood also run through the book, with Conway writing about becoming a woman in a male-dominated industry and – with chapters like “Cheerful Chaos”, “Kid Power” and “Mom Guilt” – both the joys and challenges of being a working parent and a working mother, in particular.
Nevertheless, Conway manages to ascend to the White House with Trump. And in the spring of 2020, Conway recalls sitting in the Oval Office with Trump, who thinks that without Twitter he wouldn’t have been elected: “That’s true, but as I reminded him, regarding social media, ‘Make sure he doesn’t make you unelected.’
Later, after losing his re-election bid, Conway observes, “Trump was more shocked to lose in 2020, I think, than he was to win in 2016.”
In the final days of his presidency, Conway also writes that, in a discussion with Trump about pardons and clemency, he turned to her and asked, “Do you want one?
“Do you know something I don’t?” Kellyanne asked Trump, she wrote. “Why would I need a pardon?”
“Because they go after everyone, honey.” It doesn’t matter,” Trump replied, according to the book.
“I politely declined,” she concludes.
Some of the more raw elements of his book deal with his marriage, which became a source of fascination inside the Beltway – and media coverage – as George Conway escalated his Twitter attacks on his wife’s boss.
Kellyanne Conway devotes portions at the beginning of her book to her husband’s romantic courtship with her, as well as his full support for his role as Trump’s campaign manager and even Trump himself. Which made her all the more confused, she says, when he started criticizing Trump publicly.
“For the first time since George and I got serious, I considered the possibility that the man who had always had my back might one day stab me in it,” she wrote.
As George’s tweets escalate, Conway writes that she ‘didn’t want to be stuck in a cable news segment in the master bedroom’, and the growing reality that she had ‘two men’ in her life .
“One was my husband. One was my boss, who happened to be President of the United States,” she wrote. “One of these men was defending me. And it wasn’t George Conway. It was Donald Trump.”
In the afterword, Conway describes competing with Twitter for her husband’s time and attention and asks, “And why should I even try?” she wrote, likening Twitter to another woman. “She has no personality and she’s not even sexy.”
She ends the book on an optimistic note – except, perhaps, for her marriage.
“Democracy will survive. America will survive,” she wrote. “George and I may not survive.”