A series of very public spats during the Trump administration turned Kellyanne and George Conway into one of Washington’s most curious couples—the “embodiment of our divided country,” as Vanity Fair put it. So when she, the former Trump adviser, and he, the staunch Trump detractor, announced their divorce this week, the only surprise was that it took as long as it did. They really put the “duh” in divorce.
Maybe it’ll be some small consolation to Kellyanne that their split proves that Trump’s still got it—“it” being the ability to end marriages. Looking back on all the members of Trump’s inner circle that got divorced during or as a direct result of his time in office, he may well be the anti-Cupid, and now there’s another casualty to show for it.
Be that as it may, we’ll always have our memories of the Conways’ gloriously strange and, at times, outright hostile marriage. The couple, who got married in 2001 and have four kids together, did not historically root for different candidates. The two were longtime Republicans (she has remained one), and George’s conservative bona fides date back to law school and the Clinton years, when he palled around with Ann Coulter and secretly worked with Paula Jones’ legal team. Meanwhile, Kellyanne rose to prominence as a pollster and pundit, eventually becoming Trump’s campaign manager in the 2016 presidential election. On election night, George was elated by his then-wife’s victory. But soon after, as Kellyanne built a reputation for ruthlessly defending her boss, George’s views on Trump began to sour.
Enter Twitter, which may actually be as responsible for ending the Conways’ marriage as the former president. After barely using his account in the years prior, George began criticizing Trump in 2017, despite the fact that Kellyanne was by that time a counselor in the White House. His first negative tweet came that June, not long after George Conway dropped out of the running for a position in Trump’s Justice Department. In it, George critiqued Trump’s tweets about the Muslim travel ban, saying that they undermined his administration’s ability to argue for the ban in the Supreme Court. He added, however, that he still “VERY STRONGLY support[s] POTUS.” At the time, the move received widespread press coverage, though no response from Trump. A reporter called it George’s “first tweetstorm,” to which he responded, “And last.” Suffice it to say, he turned out to be very wrong about that.
George kept his nose down on Twitter for several months after that, but he popped back up in early 2018, posting more than 200 tweets in March alone, the majority of which could be described as anti-Trump or pro–Robert Mueller (the special counsel leading an investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election). George’s tweets received another round of media attention, including headlines that said he was “going rogue” and “trolling” the president. He soon went viral, gaining scores of Twitter followers and the praise of so-called Resistance Twitter before sealing the deal with a 3,500-word essay rebutting Trump’s claim that Mueller’s investigation was unconstitutional.
When asked about her husband’s activity on CNN, Kellyanne was indignant, but not about George’s opinions—rather, she claimed to be incensed that the network would do something so off-limits as inquire about her significant other. Some wondered if there was something strategic about the couple’s apparent divide, if it might really be an effort to maintain good ties with both the MAGA and moderate wings of the party. Looking back, it seems pretty clear now that that wasn’t the case—their stances were very real, and they were in fact affecting their relationship.
The tensions in the Conway marriage were captured in a now-classic Washington Post piece in August 2018. The reporter visited the Conways’ house, where he witnessed moments of marital strife that seemed right out of a sitcom. “He’s our president,” Kellyanne said at one point, to which George quipped back, “We’ll see how long that lasts.” In the article, the two don’t fully bash each other, but they do say some shady things. For example, Kellyanne told the reporter, “I feel there’s a part of him that thinks I chose Donald Trump over him … Which is ridiculous. One is my work and one is my marriage.” She then goes on to call George’s tweets about her boss “impolite” and “disrespectful.” George, meanwhile, regretted being the one to originally introduce his wife to Trump. “Knowing what I know now,” he said in the article, “I would have said no, and never mentioned it when I got home.” Still, he emphasized that the problem was Trump, not his then-wife. One comes away from reading the piece both fascinated and baffled as to how these two were managing to live together.
In March 2019, George continued his rogue tweeting, going so far as to post a cover of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and its definition of narcissistic personality disorder after Trump went on a particularly batty Twitter spiral that included attacks on both the late Sen. John McCain and Saturday Night Live. This led to Trump firing back and calling George a “total loser.” George taunted him back, and Trump doubled down with another tweet: “George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!”
Things had gotten serious. Vanity Fair later reported that Trump had decided to lash out only after giving Kellyanne an ultimatum: her boss or her husband. She reportedly refused to dignify it with an answer, but in another way, she did make a choice. In an interview with Politico after the skirmish, Kellyanne defended not her husband, but her boss. “He left it alone for months out of respect for me,” she said of Trump. “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?” Vanity Fair reported that around this time, Kellyanne stopped wearing her wedding ring and started saying “It is what it is” when asked about her marriage.
As Business Insider has chronicled, Kellyanne attended a state dinner sans George later that year. He stuck with his crusade, publishing an op-ed in support of one of the women who accused Trump of rape and an 11,000-word article in the Atlantic with the title “Unfit for Office.” (You can guess who it was about.) The relationship “hit a new, tense milestone,” per Insider, that December when George went from derisively quote-tweeting Trump to derisively quote-tweeting his own wife with a taunt about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. After Kellyanne shared a video of Joe Biden, writing, “We need Ukraine’s help to defeat THIS guy?,” George responded, “Your boss apparently thought so.”
As the 2020 presidential election ramped up, George co-founded the Lincoln Project, a prominent PAC made up of Republicans and former Republicans working to prevent another Trump term. Trump’s attacks continued, and he even floated a new nickname for Kellyanne’s “deranged loser of a husband”: “Moonface.” (That one never really caught on.)
It’s unlikely that any of this bad blood was made better by the couple’s teenage daughter, Claudia, who transformed into a TikTok star in mid-2020, at the height of the presidential race. She gained attention for her support of liberal causes and criticism of her mother’s boss. Like father, like daughter—her TikTok presence definitely had a similarly rogue vibe to it, and it prompted a familiar round of Resistance virality.
But her TikToks and the things she said about her family in them—whether they were expressions of teenage angst or something more serious—could also be concerning: She spoke about suffering and seeking emancipation. In response, both her parents announced in August 2020 that they would be stepping back from their professional roles to focus on their family. This was supposed to mean less public sniping, and it mostly did, but Kellyanne was still somewhat involved in Trump’s campaign.
In early 2021, George warned people about the potential threat of Jan. 6 and condemned the violence afterward. Kellyanne didn’t go full “Stop the Steal,” but she continued to praise the Trump administration’s accomplishments publicly. As Vanity Fair put it, “But then how could Kellyanne Conway profess anything but admiration? To admit that Trump is a profoundly flawed human being would be to admit that George was right and that she made a mistake.” Claudia, meanwhile, claimed that the couple, who were allegedly considering divorce as early as 2021, was just “putting on a show” for publicity.
Kellyanne published a memoir, Here’s the Deal, in 2022, and in it, she compared George’s anti-Trump tweets to infidelity. She told CNN, “George owes no allegiance to a political party or a presidential candidate. But his vows to me, I feel, were broken.” They were presumably still married when it came out, and at the time, it looked like they might just stay in their externally bizarre arrangement forever.
So why split now? Time magazine asked some marriage therapists to speculate—perhaps the pressure was what was keeping them together; perhaps they “lost the notion of themselves as a team.” As inevitable as their divorce seemed, we’ll probably never get a firm explanation for its timing.
Trump, of course, has already weighed in via his own social network, Truth Social: “Congratulations to Kellyanne Conway on her DIVORCE from her wacko husband, Mr. Kellyanne Conway. Free at last, she has finally gotten rid of the disgusting albatross around her neck. She is a great person, and will now be free to lead the kind of life that she deserves…and it will be a great life without the extremely unattractive loser by her side!”
The world makes a little more sense now that the Conways are officially no more, but there’s no denying that it’s also that much less interesting without their antics. Mr. Kellyanne Conway, we hardly knew ye.