Trump jabs back at 'Mr. Kellyanne Conway,' an unusual critic

WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday took a jab at a conservative lawyer whose critical tweets and editorials have attracted an outsized following because he is married to a top aide to the president.

"You mean, Mr. Kellyanne Conway?" Trump said to reporters when asked about a Thursday New York Times editorial by George Conway, who wrote that Trump's appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general was unconstitutional.

"He’s trying to get publicity for himself," Trump said, dismissing the commentary from the lawyer, whose wife Kellyanne Conway is counselor to Trump, and managed his 2016 presidential election campaign.

"Why don't you do this: why don’t you ask Kellyanne that question, alright? She might know him better than me. I really don’t know the guy,” Trump said.

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Kellyanne Conway in her White House role
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Kellyanne Conway in her White House role
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway winks and waves at the news media as she goes to make a TV appearance at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Senior advisor Kellyanne Conway (L) attends as U.S. President Donald Trump (behind desk) welcomes the leaders of dozens of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 27, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "We're often asked how much access we have to the Trump administration, and the answer is we have an awful lot. President Trump himself is very comfortable in the spotlight, and his aides are similarly unfazed by cameras. In this instance, senior advisor Kellyanne Conway was so comfortable in our presence she seemed not to consider the optics of kneeling on a Oval Office sofa to take pictures with her phone." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
First Lady of the United States Melania Trump and Kellyanne Conway listen as doctors from Cincinnati Children Hospital talk about children's health at the hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/ John Sommers II
White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (C) departs as she and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) stand on the sidelines while U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) laughs with other aides before U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered joint statements from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway whispers to Senior Advisor Jared Kushner before U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered joint statements from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway arrives for a meeting with the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in Washington, U.S., June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Vice President Mike Pence and White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway leave after attending a Republican party policy lunch meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway holds up a memorandum from the Justice Department's Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein critical of Comey's position as director of the FBI at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
(L-R) Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Senior Advisor Stephen Miller walk on the South Lawn of the White House upon their return with President Donald Trump to Washington, U.S., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway arrives at Newark International airport in Newark, NJ U.S., with President Donald Trump, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Keith Schiller, deputy assistant to the president and director of Oval Office operations, follow U.S. President Donald Trump to Marine One as he departs for a day trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway takes part in a strategic and policy CEO discussion with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Eisenhower Execution Office Building in Washington, U.S., April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway waves as she arrives to speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senior advisors Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway watch as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway leaves after attending House Republican conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, attended the joint press conference of President Donald Trump and President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Friday, June 9, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: White House Senior Advisor, Kellyanne Conway (L), stand with White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks, during a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and King Abdullah II of Jordan, at the White House April 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump held talks on Middle East peace process and other bilateral issues with King Abdullah II. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, listens as US President Donald Trump speaks at American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan on March 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to US President Donald Trump, walks to a House Republican conference meeting at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2017. US President Donald Trump held last-minute negotiations with fellow Republicans to avoid a humiliating defeat Thursday in his biggest legislative test to date, as lawmakers vote on an Obamacare replacement plan which conservatives threaten to sink. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 21: Kellyanne Conway, aide to President Donald Trump, arrives in the Capitol for Trump's meeting with the House Republican Conference on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Counselor to the President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway attends the swearing in ceremony of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be the new Health and Human Services Secretary., on February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Conway has been under fire for her comments about Ivanka Trump's clothing line during a TV interview. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway poses with a guest prior to a "celebration of America" event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2018. The event was arranged after Trump canceled the planned visit of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Leader Award by the Susan B. Anthony List, listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala at the National Building Museum in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Al Drago
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks with a guest before U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks regarding the Administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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Neither Kellyanne Conway nor her husband responded to requests for comment.

Early in his presidency, Trump had considered George Conway for a top Department of Justice job, but Conway withdrew from consideration.

Since then, Conway has frequently posted comments viewed as critical of the president on Twitter.

In the past week, he retweeted articles about the number of false and misleading claims made by Trump during the congressional election campaign, and comments from former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who said Trump was using troops on the U.S. border with Mexico as "pawns."

Last week, Conway co-authored an opinion piece in the Washington Post that argued a Trump move to end the right to citizenship for children of foreigners born on U.S. soil would be unconstitutional.

"To say that 'illegal immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States' is just drivel," Conway wrote on Twitter, citing Trump's contention that birthright citizenship was not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

"Were that true, then the government wouldn’t be able to arrest them. Surely that’s not the President’s position. Clearly he has no comprehension of the words he’s using," Conway said.

Kellyanne Conway, a stalwart defender of Trump, has been reluctant to talk about her husband's criticism of her boss. In April, she angrily told a CNN television interviewer who asked about it that the question "was meant to harass and embarrass."

In an interview with the Washington Post in August, Conway said her husband's tweets were viewed as "disrespectful" but did not want to talk about them.

"I’ve never actually said what I think about it and I won’t say what I think about it, which tells you what I think about it," she told the Post.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Tom Brown)

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