George T. Conway III, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, has emerged as one of President Trump’s most persistent, biting critics, describing the administration his wife works in as a “s***house in a dumpster fire” in an interview with the Yahoo News Skullduggery podcast.
Conway is a prominent Republican lawyer who supported Trump during the campaign. But he has a long history of fighting what he considers illegitimate assertions of power and privilege by presidents, going back to Bill Clinton.
In the same podcast interview, Conway spoke for the first time about his own role in helping to drive the events that led to Clinton’s impeachment — a cause he took up, he said, over his outrage about the president’s efforts to avoid accountability for allegations of sexual harassment dating back to when he was governor of Arkansas.
“I picked up a copy of the New York Times one day in May or June of 1994,” Conway said. “And the White House was floating the idea of making a presidential immunity argument — the argument would be that because the president was president, he could not be sued while in office for the stuff that happened before he was president. And I just thought that was crazy, that doesn’t make any sense.”
Paula Jones, an Arkansas state employee, alleged that she was sexually harassed by Clinton in a hotel room in 1991 when he was the governor of Arkansas. She filed suit against Clinton in 1994.
Said Conway: “It struck me as absolutely ridiculous and outrageous that these people would suggest that this guy, before he became president, pulling this crap on this woman in a hotel — you know, having a state trooper bring a woman up to his hotel room and basically whipping it out — should claim presidential immunity for that.”
So he wrote an op-ed, published in the Los Angeles Times, that argued “no man is above the law.” It caught the attention of Jones’s lawyer, Jerome Marcus, and Conway began writing legal briefs to assist in their legal battle against Clinton.
“I didn’t like the Clintons, there’s no question about it,” Conway said.
But he was also driven by what he calls the “deeply offensive” nature of the case.
“You had a governor, a public official, sending a state trooper to fetch a woman, to bring that woman up to a hotel suite, where then the governor pulls his pants down and shows his genitals and asks for oral sex,” Conway said. “There was something Caligula-like about it that was appalling.”
Download or subscribe on iTunes: “Skullduggery” from Yahoo News
“It wasn’t about sex or just a plain somebody having an affair. It wasn’t, you know, the morality police the way people put it,” he continued. “I thought people got it then, right, cause there was all this thing about sexual harassment back then. Now, it’s like, oh, before Me Too … you’ve got this public official using a police officer. And nobody’s really disputed the facts. Nobody’s really disputed the facts.”
Conway pointed out that Danny Ferguson, the state trooper dispatched by Clinton to bring Jones to his hotel room, confirmed a basic element of her story.
“I always remember this. Paragraph 10 of the complaint is the paragraph, you remember this, was alleged that Danny Ferguson brought Paula Jones up to the hotel room and, you know, knocked on the door,” Conway said. “And Danny Ferguson was the defendant, and he answered. His answer to the complaint admits the allegations in paragraph 10. He confirmed that that happened.”
The events surrounding Clinton’s conduct are getting a closer look in light of the #MeToo movement — an issue that is being explored in a new A&E special, “The Clinton Affair,” airing this week, which mostly focuses on the president’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, a scandal that broke 20 years ago and led directly to Clinton’s impeachment and trial.
On Skullduggery, Conway outed himself as the source who tipped off Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff to independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigation of the Lewinsky affair. Isikoff, now chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, is co-host of Skullduggery, with Yahoo News Editor in Chief Daniel Klaidman.
Starr, who was initially appointed to investigate Clinton’s Whitewater real estate investments and the suicide of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, was now looking into the president’s personal life.
In the interview, which was conducted by Isikoff and Klaidman, Conway revealed for the first time that he told Isikoff that Ken Starr had “expanded his investigation — Ken Starr is investigating Monica — and that there was going to be a sting at the Ritz Carlton. They’ve got Linda [Tripp, Lewinsky’s confidante] wired up and they’re having lunch at the Ritz Pentagon City.”
Isikoff has said that the tip nearly knocked him out of his chair. While Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky was known in certain circles in Washington, the existence of a federal investigation into the matter was news.
Conway, who insisted on anonymity in his conversation with Isikoff at the time but now feels free to talk, said he could sense the gravity of what was to come.
“Here I am in my office thinking I just touched off the biggest political bomb in the history of the universe,” Conway said.
Conway also recounted the first time he heard the tapes of Tripp’s conversations with Lewinsky, which became the basis of the perjury case against Clinton and led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives. (He was later acquitted by the Senate.)
Conway was friendly with Tripp’s lawyer, James Moody, and Moody — who is legally blind — invited Conway to listen to the tapes at his Washington, D.C., law offices.
When he arrived, Conway said Moody was struggling to get the tapes to play in an old Dictaphone.
“He’s fumbling with the buttons,” Conway said. “And I’m watching this, and I start getting this incredibly sick feeling in stomach. And I’m like, ‘holy f***ing shit. A blind man is going to erase evidence that could lead to the impeachment of a president.’”
More “Skullduggery” from Yahoo News:
- Episode 30: Active measures
- Episode 31: What if the president is deranged?
- Episode 32: Abuse of power
- Episode 33: Loud threats and bitter menaces
- Episode 34: Hot for teacher
- Episode 35: Tickling the wire
- Episode 36: Khashoggi friend says journalist angered Saudi government
- Episode 37: D.C. think tank says ‘no’ to Saudi funds
- Episode 38: ‘The fish does stink from the head down’
- Episode 39: An exclusive interview with George Conway