White House counselor Kellyanne Conway mocked, berated and threatened a Washington Examiner reporter who mentioned her husband’s opposition to President Donald Trump in an article about her, as heard in audio the conservative newspaper released Thursday.
In their heated conversation, Conway lashed out at reporter Caitlin Yilek for briefly mentioning George Conway’s feelings about the president ― which he has publicly expressed frequently since Trump took office ― in an article rehashing Bloomberg News’ scoop that Trump was considering making her his new chief of staff (a possibility he has since denied).
Conway was furious that Yilek would bring up this wrinkle in her relationship with Trump. In one of the more jaw-dropping moments from the call, Conway suggests to Yilek that the White House will start digging into the personal lives of reporters who it thinks has crossed that boundary.
So, listen, if you’re going to cover my personal life, if you’re going to cover my personal life, then we’re welcome to do the same around here. If it has nothing to do with my job, which it doesn’t, that’s obvious, then we’re either going to expect you to cover everybody’s personal life or we’re going to start covering them over here.
Conway’s threat is not beyond the scope of reason, given Trump’s hostility toward the press, a frequent punching bag at his rallies and in his tweets. In 2017, he tweeted out a doctored video showing him beating up a CNN logo. And less than two weeks ago, a graphic video featuring a fake Trump stabbing members of the news media was reportedly played at a conference for his supporters at his own resort in Doral, Florida, where current and former members of his administration were present.
Kellyanne Conway in her White House role
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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On the rest of Conway’s call with Yilek, who told Conway she includes information about people’s families when it is relevant to the story, she spent the majority of her time shaming the reporter. Here she takes a swipe at her age and experience:
You’re really going places. Let me tell you something, from a powerful woman. Don’t pull the crap where you’re trying to undercut another woman based on who she’s married to. He gets his power through me, if you haven’t noticed. Not the other way around. And if these are the, quote, standards, unquote, at the Washington Examiner, then, yes, I’d be happy to talk to your editor. But I’ve known your editor since before you were born.
Conway also took issue with Yilek writing that she “has been in the middle of Trump’s barbs with her husband,” arguing that she was attempting to “characterize the way I feel” as if she had “some psychology degree.”
But when Yilek offered to add to her report that Conway disputes being caught in the middle, she quipped, “Nobody read your story.”
Conway made the same argument in a tweet response to Yilek after she shared the transcript and audio, writing that this “makes my point about how dangerous it is to characterize someone else’s intentions, feelings, or state of mind, even if it’s for clicks and kicks.”
Conway, who is known for lashing out at reporters, may have believed the conversation was happening off the record. However, she did not get that clearance from Yilek, who agreed only to speak off-the-record with Tom Joannou, a special assistant to her and Trump who started the call before Conway came on the line.
The Examiner’s editor-in-chief, Oliver Darcy, issued a statement standing by Yilek, saying Conway’s behavior sunk to “abusing, bullying and threatening.”