White House aide Kellyanne Conway publicly backed Donald Trump on Wednesday after an extraordinary 48-hour Twitter row between the president and her husband came to a head.
Mrs Conway used a cable news interview to insist she would not resign and rebuked her husband George for airing his views in public.
It follows two days during which Mr Conway and Mr Trump have traded blows on twitter in a war of words that has generated a slew of headlines.
It began earlier this week with Mr Conway, a prominent conservative lawyer, suggesting the president suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder in a string of tweets, adding "his condition is getting worse every day".
It led Mr Trump to issue a scathing response on Wednesday, tweeting: "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!"
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2019
In front of the cameras later Mr Trump added: "I don’t know him. He’s a whack job, there’s no question about it. I think he’s doing a tremendous disservice to his wonderful wife. Kellyanne is a wonderful woman".
Asked to untangle the situation on Wednesday, Mrs Conway told Fox Business: "I appreciate the president defending what he thinks is unfairness. I’ll leave that up to him. I was raised, though, in a household of strong Italian Catholic women who taught me that you air grievances like that in private, so it is very surprising to see it be so public".
She also ruled out leaving her position, although she said her husband would like her to step down. "I’m not being asked to choose between my marriage and my job. The president has never made me feel that way".
"What message would that send to the feminists everywhere who pretend they’re independent thinkers and men don’t make decisions for them?" she said. "They can talk it, and I can walk it. I can live it." She added that Mr Trump had largely avoided retaliating to her husband’s barbs in the past because he is "protective" of her.
Mr Trump relied heavily on Mrs Conway, a longtime Republican pollster and strategist, to help steer his presidential campaign to victory in 2016 and she remains a trusted member of his inner circle.
Mrs Conway has so largely avoided commenting on her marriage and said she wants to protect the couple’s four school-age children.
Appearing pained at times during the interview, she said: "My husband has been very critical of the president publicly, which is unlike him because he’s usually a very private person." "I don’t know when the feminists are going to write this story about the unusual situation of a man getting power through his wife but that’s what we have here," she added.
Mr Conway had at one time been friendly with Mr Trump and contemplated taking a job within the administration’s Department of Justice.
He later said he withdrew himself from consideration for the role because he watched Mr Trump attack the department’s leaders and then fire then FBI director James Comey in May 2017.
In recent months he has been a frequent critic of the president in recent months, even while his wife goes on television to defend her boss.
His attacks on the president increased in the last few days in response to a weekend "tweet storm" by the president in which he attacked the late senator John McCain, Google and the Russia investigation.
In an interview with the Washington Post this week, Mr Conway said he tweets about Mr Trump in order to avoid taking his frustrations out on his wife.
"The tweeting is just the way to get it out of the way, so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day. That’s basically it. Frankly, it’s so I don’t end up screaming at her about it."
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