Even in television news, a little stunt casting can’t hurt.
MSNBC turned heads on Wednesday when, minutes before the House impeachment hearings got underway, the network announced a surprise guest: George T. Conway III, the conservative lawyer and husband of President Trump’s White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway.
Little known outside legal circles before his wife’s ascent to political stardom, Mr. Conway has become a liberal sensation by emerging as an unlikely critic of the president. His Twitter account, once a sleepy province of corgi and cat videos, is now a favorite of Trump detractors eager for Mr. Conway’s sweeping and spiky denunciations.
But while Mr. Conway has also ventured into newspaper Op-Ed pages (“Trump is a Racist President” was the headline of his Washington Post opinion piece in July) and other media forums, he had drawn the line at appearing on Mr. Trump’s favored medium. Until now.
“I don’t, frankly, want to be on television,” Mr. Conway said during the Wednesday morning broadcast from the MSNBC set in New York, where he had been granted a perch across from the co-anchors Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace. “But this,” he added, referring to Mr. Trump’s conduct, “I just don’t get why people can’t see this, and why people are refusing to see this. It’s appalling to me.”
His fellow panelists thanked Mr. Conway profusely for appearing on-set, a hint at just how coveted a booking he has been in television news circles. MSNBC producers had pursued Mr. Conway for months, with Ms. Wallace leading the charge, according to a person who requested anonymity to describe network discussions meant to be private.
Dressed soberly in a blue suit and gold tie, Mr. Conway — who was identified onscreen, merely, as “Conservative Attorney” — sounded pained at times as he laced into the president, saying, “This is about putting the country, the law, truth, above partisanship.”
Asked by Ms. Wallace if he was disappointed that his fellow Republicans did not share those views, Mr. Conway replied: “I’m horrified. I’m appalled. If you had told me three years ago it would come to this, I wouldn’t have believed this. I don’t think I could have imagined a president, any president, engaging in this sort of conduct.”
As a political spouse whose opinions have irked the West Wing, Mr. Conway has been compared to Martha Mitchell, the wife of Richard Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, and an open critic of the Nixon administration during the Watergate scandal.
Neither the MSNBC hosts nor his fellow panelists queried Mr. Conway about his relationship with Kellyanne Conway, or what she thought of his appearing on television during such a momentous day in Mr. Trump’s presidency.
But the hosts sounded pleased by his presence. “We’re grateful to have all of your perspective,” Ms. Wallace said, with Mr. Williams adding: “Yes, thank you, counselor, for stopping by.”
After a break to watch the first installment of testimony — from William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official — Mr. Conway remained on-set to express his admiration for the two.
“These men are talking about duty and honor and country and freedom,” he said. “Those words mean nothing to Donald Trump. Because all Donald Trump cares about, again, is himself.” Mr. Conway went on to call Mr. Trump’s actions, as described in Wednesday’s testimony, as “a direct violation of his oath of office.”
Lest his 748,000 Twitter followers miss any running commentary on the impeachment proceedings, Mr. Conway remained active on social media while sitting on the MSNBC set, retweeting more than two dozen posts in the first session of testimony alone.
He threw in a couple of funny cat videos for good measure.
The post MSNBC’s Surprise Guest: George Conway, Husband of Kellyanne appeared first on New York Times.