Kellyanne Conway takes aim at Bannon in book but hits Trump in process

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

In her new memoir, Kellyanne Conway lavishes abuse on Steve Bannon, calling the former White House strategist a “leaking dirigible” and an “unpaternal, paternalistic bore of a boor” more concerned with his own image than serving Donald Trump.

Related: The ‘straight, white, Christian, suburban mom’ taking on Republicans at their own game

But in doing so, the former senior counselor to the ex-US president criticises Trump himself, otherwise a notable escapee from her book.

“One of Trump’s biggest selling points,” Conway writes in one of many takedowns of Bannon, “was his refreshing lack of political experience. But the flip side of that quality was his occasional blind spots when it came to personnel decisions and political endorsements.”

Trump’s endorsements are the focus of fierce attention. In Georgia primaries on Tuesday his candidate for governor, David Perdue, seems doomed to defeat while his Senate candidate, Herschel Walker, is widely deemed unsuitable for the role.

Conway continues: “[Trump] was often too trusting of others who lacked transparency or talent, and insufficiently skeptical of those who were pushing the wrong people as candidates for office or as colleagues in the administration. I won some of those arguments and lost some.”

Conway’s book, Here’s the Deal, has caused arguments since excerpts were reported last week. It is published in the US on Tuesday.

The New Jersey Republican operative was both the first woman to manage a winning presidential campaign and a relatively rare senior staffer to last four years in the chaotic Trump White House.

Her avoidance of criticising Trump has been widely reported. Her criticism of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser, and her version of the strain placed on her marriage by her husband George Conway’s open disdain for Trump, have also been widely discussed.

She charges that others in the Trump White House leaked to the media consistently.

“As a frequent guest in mixed political company,” she writes, “I’d been much more transparent and much more reserved in my dealings than the leaking Bannon dirigible hovering about, and the taxpayer-funded Kushner image-curation machine stationed inside and outside the White House.”

Bannon has been a source for multiple tell-alls, but Conway’s protestations of discretion might ring hollow to some.

As the Guardian wrote in its review of Team of Vipers, a 2019 memoir by a former Trump aide: “[Cliff] Sims spills the beans on Conway repeatedly trashing Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon and Sean Spicer to the mainstream media, while recounting to the press ostensibly private conversations with the president.”

Conway says her relationship with Bannon began well, though she found him to be “a strange dude, gruff, unkempt, prone to sweeping historical assertions and bold declarations about the current state of politics”.

The two were introduced by Rebekah Mercer, a far-right mega-donor whose ownership of Cambridge Analytica, a Bannon-linked data firm which became enmeshed in scandal, remains unexamined by Conway.

“Our arranged marriage got off to a promising start” before the 2016 election, Conway says of Bannon, as the two operatives “tried to shake up some stuck-in-the-mud Republicans and introduce fresh names to the candidate hunt”.

Related: ‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower

She also says Bannon urged her to take a job in Trump’s White House, saying: “Fuck, girl, c’mon: you gotta do this.”

But Conway says that in the White House, Bannon’s “main job seemed to be building his own fiefdom”. She also says Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, warned her Bannon was on his way out.

Bannon left the White House in August 2017, amid uproar over Donald Trump’s courting of far-right activists with whom Bannon remains closely associated.

Bannon is the only Trump aide to face a criminal charge related to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Charged with contempt of Congress, he has pleaded not guilty.

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