George Conway, the 30-year veteran of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and 18-year spouse of counselor to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway, first used Twitter to express his opinions about the president back in June 2017.
Lately Conway, who’s formally of counsel at the ultra-elite New York firm, has accelerated his online criticism of the president. He’s become a co-founder of a group of conservative lawyers vowing to speak out in favor of the rule of law and to the power of truth, a clear rebuke to the president.
Now Trump, who’s never shied away from an online fight, is dishing back with new tweets and insults that continued into Wednesday.
Trump used Twitter Tuesday to call Conway a “total loser” after 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote that the president ”turned down Mr. Kellyanne Conway for a job he desperately wanted.” Conway had once been mooted to serve as Trump’s solicitor general then refused an offer to lead the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
On Wednesday, Trump attacked Conway again on Twitter, this time without a prompt from Parscale.
“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!”
According to a report from NBC News, Trump continued his fusillade when speaking to reporters on the White House lawn Wednesday afternoon before leaving for Ohio, calling Conway a “whack job.”
Conway, meanwhile, responded to Tuesday’s affront by asserting the president has a narcissistic personality disorder. His rejoinder to Wednesday’s tweet was more succinct: he simply retweeted it, commenting “The President of the United States.”
While internet and media speculation in recent days and months has centered on the status of the Conways’ marriage, there’s another consequence of the feud worth considering: any potential impact on Wachtell, the most profitable law firm in the world.
In addition to airing his grievances with individuals ranging from the late Sen. John McCain to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Trump has eagerly used Twitter as a mouthpiece to attack companies that have provoked his ire. Targets have included Amazon, General Motors, the New York Times, and Carrier, and Trump shows no signs of running out of room on his list.
So what happens if Trump elects to call out not just Conway, but also his employer, Wachtell?
“It’s an area that’s fraught with danger,” says Stan Steinreich, president and CEO of Steinreich Communications. “The president is still the president, and that only comes with gravitas and power.”
(Another lawyer at an elite New York firm, Sullivan & Cromwell partner Frank Aquila, deleted his own Twitter account in September after tweeting that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders should “Rot in Hell” and having his position with the law firm draw scrutiny.)
Compared to some of its peers, Wachtell doesn’t regularly see its attorneys jump back and forth between the firm and the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. (Two exceptions: former New York district attorney Robert Morgenthau and former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum.) Consequently, it may not be as familiar with seeing its attorneys landing at the center of the news cycle as other top New York and Washington firms.
Still, it’s likely that the firm has already considered the prospect of being hit with shrapnel from the fight.
“This isn’t their first rodeo,” Steinreich says. “I would certainly assume they’re well prepared to handle that.”
It’s also fair to expect that the firm, already muted in its public profile, has made a pre-emptive decision to sit on its hands if its name does show up in the president’s Twitter postings. Neither Conway nor the firm responded to requests for comment, but that would be in line with Steinreich’s advice.
“When things spiral down into the gutter, I think people that take the high ground and don’t engage in the mudslinging are those that ultimately win out,” he says. “I would counsel Wachtell not to be quick to jump into this mix. Situations like this can be 24-hour events at best.”