Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com
The White House that has found itself engulfed in controversy for the last five days over the new tell-all insider book that depicts Donald Trump as mentally unstable and unfit for the office. Yet one of the administration’s chief spin doctors has been remarkably quiet.
Instead of being out front defending the White House and trying to raise doubts about Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” — a book Trump’s lawyer tried to get banned — White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has been noticeably absent from the crisis management effort.
A constant, predictable presence on cable news channels over the last year, it appears Conway has given no televised interviews to defend the White House with regards to the Wolff book since the imbroglio exploded on Jan. 3.
In fact, it was Trump aide Stephen Miller who was assigned to defend to White House on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
And those results were disastrous.
The interview was cut off by host Jake Tapper when Miller became both elusive and argumentative. Off-camera after the interview, Tapper scolded Miller: “This is why they don’t have you do TV. OK?” Miller then refused to leave the set and had to be escorted away by CNN security.
The White House may have preferred to have Conway do that interview, as the administration scrambles to counter the book’s conclusion that Trump’s presidency is essentially a hoax and his administration nothing short of a trainwreck.
But it seems Conway has gone into hiding in recent days.
And that could be because Conway was one of the key Trump aides who helped secure Wolff’s exclusive access to the White House in the first place. In other words, Conway helped Wolff write a book that completely trashes Trump.
Appearing on “Morning Joe” on Monday and speaking with Mike Barnicle, Wolff confirmed that it was Conway and Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon who opened doors for him:
BARNICLE: Who was the original contact for you to get you into the White House?
WOLFF: Beyond Trump himself who was completely, you know, “Sure.” It seemed like he didn’t care that much. But then it was Bannon and Kellyanne.
This isn’t surprising. “He was seen having lunch at the fading Manhattan media power lunch joint Michael’s with special counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, which turned heads even at a restaurant known for star sightings,” Buzzfeed reported last winter, when Wolff was angling for White House access.
As for the contents of the finished book, Wolff did Conway no favors either, portraying her as someone who was privately aware of the Trump administration absurdities, but who publicly cheered them on:
In private, in the Off position, she seemed to regard Trump as a figure of exhausting exaggeration or even absurdity—or, at least, if you regarded him that way, she seemed to suggest that she might, too. She illustrated her opinion of her boss with a whole series of facial expressions: eyes rolling, mouth agape, head snapping back. But in the On position, she metamorphosed into believer, protector, defender, and handler.
At times, Conway’s fulsome defense of Trump last year was too much even for some top aides to take, according to Wolff, and she was temporarily taken off the air.
It certainly seems like Conway has been benched once again.