George and Kellyanne Conway, a former Trump adviser, intend to get divorced.

George and Kellyanne Conway

In Washington After 22 years of marriage, George T. Conway III, a conservative attorney who became one of former President Donald J. Trump’s harshest critics, and Kellyanne Conway, a Republican strategist and longtime adviser, are seeking to divorce, according to persons familiar with the situation.

Few in Washington were shocked by the development, which was first reported by The New York Post, as they had grown accustomed to the occasionally acrimonious dynamic between the former Republican power couple throughout the first four years of the Trump administration. The hostility on show made it clear that this group was more severely endangered by their political differences than a D.C. odd pair for the Trump age like Mary Matalin and James Carville.

The public fallout surrounding the Conways was seen as yet another victim of being associated with Mr. Trump; it was the dissolution of a marriage who first appeared to be a good match until a president and a Twitter account got in the way.

After Mr. Trump fired James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shortly after taking office, Ms. Conway, a former Trump supporter who wept with happiness on election night in 2016, started publicly criticising Mr. Trump. Conway immediately developed a cult following on Twitter as he increased his criticisms and frequently branded Mr. Trump as having narcissistic personality disorder and therefore unsuitable for office. Mr. Conway was outraged by the president’s attacks on the rule of law.

Despite the unpleasantness, Ms. Conway stuck by Mr. Trump and continues to communicate with him frequently as he prepares for his 2024 presidential campaign. She contributes to Fox News as well.

Ms. Conway worked as the president’s counsellor throughout her time in the White House, and she frequently reprimanded reporters for daring to inquire about or write about her marriage or Mr. Conway.

In a text message on Saturday, Ms. Conway denigrated the reporter writing about her divorce for having “the gossip girl beat” and referred to Mr. Conway as “Kellyanne Conway’s Husband.” Ms. Conway added that he was often quoted in news stories despite having “no expertise,” implying that journalists did so just to put her in an awkward position. Ms. Conway has long maintained that any interest in her husband was part of an effort to undermine the standing of a prominent conservative woman.

Mr. Trump, however, weighed in on his social media network, where he congratulated Ms. Conway on her divorce from her “wacko husband,” whom he described as a “disgusting albatross around her neck.”

Mr. Conway replied, telling the president that he was “looking forward to seeing you in New York at E. Jean’s trial next month! Hugs and kisses,” a reference to the writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Mr. Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s and filed suit against him last year under a New York law giving a one-time extension of the statute of limitations in such cases.

Mr. Conway’s critical tweets seemed to particularly get under Mr. Trump’s skin. When Mr. Trump was president and his tweets still dictated news cycles, their testy exchanges helped elevate the Conway drama in a White House that often revolved around personalities and personal disputes. Mr. Trump once logged onto Twitter to refer to Mr. Conway as a “stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!” and railed against him as someone who was “VERY jealous of his wife’s success.”

Mr. Conway has long dismissed the idea that he somehow capitalized off his wife’s reputation and has said that in the course of a long marriage, it is hard to separate out which partner is responsible for the other’s fortune or fame. He has told friends that he felt he had no option but to put everything on the line to fight Mr. Trump, motivated at least in part by a sense of guilt by association.

“The way we structured our lives before the campaign, it enabled her to build her business so she could become the campaign manager,” Mr. Conway, who was previously a partner at the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, said in an interview in 2019. “I helped in ways that enabled her to go off and be the campaign manager, and go off to the White House in the spring of 2017.”

The couple has four children. When Ms. Conway finally left the White House in August 2020, she said it was to spend more time with her teenage children. “For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama,” she said.

In her memoir, “Here’s the Deal,” released last year, Ms. Conway wrote that the public spectacle of her marriage prompted Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, to at one point hand her a Post-it note with “the names of two local doctors who specialized in couples therapy.”

“After I showed George the names, he rejected one and said a halfhearted ‘OK’ to the other while looking at his phone,” Ms. Conway wrote. “We never went.”

In her book, she also accused George of being taken in by the attention and said he was essentially “cheating by tweeting.”

“It seemed the flood of reaction and attention he was receiving was magnetic and irresistible,” she said.

While the disagreements between them eventually became insurmountable, the Conways may have stood a chance to remain together longer than many in Washington assumed.

“George believed the marriage could be saved,” said Philippe Reines, a former top adviser to Hillary Clinton who became an unexpected confidant of Mr. Conway’s. “But she needed to leave the White House to have a chance. By then, though, it was too far gone.”

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Annie Karni is a congressional correspondent. She was previously a White House correspondent. Before joining The Times, she covered the White House and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign for Politico, and spent a decade covering local politics for the New York Post and the New York Daily News. @AnnieKarni

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