WASHINGTON – Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump and one of his longest-serving aides, is leaving the White House at the end of the month.
Conway, whose title is counselor to the president, was Trump’s third campaign manager in 2016 and the first woman to manage a presidential campaign to victory. She joined the White House at the start of Trump’s term and has been one of his most visible and vocal defenders.
Conway informed Trump of her decision Sunday night in the Oval Office.
Her husband, George Conway, a conservative lawyer and outspoken critic of the president, is stepping back from his role on the Lincoln Project, an outside group of Republicans devoted to defeating Trump in November. He will also take a hiatus from Twitter, the venue he has often used to attack the president.
In a statement, Conway called her time in the Trump administration “heady” and “humbling,” and said she and George were making the decision based on what they think is best for their four children.
“We disagree about plenty,” she wrote of herself and her husband, “but we are united on what matters most: the kids. Our four children are teens and ‘tweens starting a new academic year in the middle school and high school that will be conducted remotely from home for a least a few months. As millions of parents nationwide know, kids ‘doing school from home’ requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times.”
Conway continued: “This is completely my choice and my voice. In time, I will announce future plans. For now, and for my beloved children, it will less drama, more mama.”
Conway’s high school-age daughter had drawn attention for tweets about her parents and politics.
On Sunday, she tweeted that social media was “becoming way too much” so she had decided to take “a mental health break.”
“See y’all soon,” she wrote. “Thank you for the love and support. No hate to my parents please.”
Conway’s announcement comes on the eve of the Republican National Convention as Trump seeks to gain momentum for a tough reelection battle ahead.
She has been intimately involved in the convention planning, and will be speaking Wednesday night about the theme of “everyday heroes.” She spent Saturday at the campaign headquarters in her personal capacity.
Conway outlasted many of her colleagues from the campaign and the White House to become one of Trump’s longest-serving aides, proving herself to be a survivor in a workplace that has had historic levels of turnover.
The Conways became an object of fascination as George Conway ramped up his criticism of the president in 2018 while Kellyanne Conway remained a top adviser to Trump.
George Conway has written, among other things, that Trump is not mentally fit to be president.
The president has voiced anger at times about George Conways comments, calling him a “a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell.”
Before making her decision, Conway had been in discussions with the Trump campaign. Senior advisers on the campaign had suggested she take a leave of absence from the White House to join Trump’s reelection effort, and anticipated a significant role in which she would travel to two states a day between now and the election.
But Conway said she could not envision herself in that role right now, spending so much time away from her family.
In her statement, Conway also expressed her gratitude to Trump; his wife, Melania; Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen; as well as her colleagues in the administration.
“The incredible men, women and children I’ve met along the way have reaffirmed by later-in-life experience that public service can be meaningful and consequential,” she wrote. “For all of its political differences and cultural cleavages, this is a beautiful country filled with amazing people. The promise of America belongs to us all.”
Conway brought attention at times, particularly over her flouting of a law, the Hatch Act, that prohibits public employees from using their official capacity to conduct political activity.
In March 2018, the Office of the Special Counsel said she violated federal law on two occasions by making public comments supportive of one candidate and against another before a special Senate election in Alabama in 2017.
The White House dismissed the finding, saying Conway was reflecting the views of the president.
Conway was a frequent guest on television programs, known for her defense of the president and sharp put-downs aimed at his opponents.
She drew criticism for an appearance early in the Trump administration when she defended then-press-secretary Sean Spicer after he falsely stated that Trump’s swearing-in ceremony drew “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.”
She told NBC News’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that Spicer was using “alternative facts,” a phrase that critics of the administration have continued to highlight as evidence of Trump and his White House not being honest with the public.
Conway, a veteran GOP pollster and strategist, joined the Trump campaign in July 2016 after working for a super PAC that supported Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and was highly critical of Trump.