In Depth

Who is Kellyanne Conway and what are her biggest gaffes?

Donald Trump's adviser in the spotlight again after putting her feet up on an Oval Office sofa

Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump's gaffe-prone senior adviser, has come under fire this week after she was pictured with her feet on a sofa in the Oval Office.

Her heels were seen digging into the furniture as she took pictures on her smartphone of Trump with visitors to the White House.

The image sparked a social media storm, with tweeters accusing her of "disrespect".

"That's no way to act in the People's Oval Office," said one, while another posted: "Think of all the great people who sat on that couch and put your feet down."

Defending herself on Fox, Conway said she had been asked to take a picture "in a crowded room with the press behind us".

She added: "I was asked to take a certain angle and was doing exactly that. I certainly meant no disrespect. I didn't mean to have my feet on the couch."

The incident comes after a series of high-profile blunders since Trump was sworn in as President.

Alternative facts


Conway coined her first notorious turn of phrase two days after the inauguration, when she defended Trump's provably false claim that his swearing-in attracted the biggest audience in history.

Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, she insisted White House press secretary Sean Spicer had not lied to reporters about the size of the crowd but had merely offered "alternative facts".

The phrase was compared to the "doublespeak" used by the government in George Orwell's dystopian classic 1984, which saw a boost in sales following the interview.

Bowling Green massacre


Conway's next gaffe came less than two weeks later, when she cited a non-existent terrorist attack as evidence of the danger posed by refugees.

Appearing on MSNBC to defend Trump's executive order temporarily banning people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US, Conway said: "Two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalised‍ and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. I mean, most people don't know that because it didn't get covered."

In reality, no such massacre occurred. It has been suggested that Conway was referring to two Iraqi refugees who were arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2011 and convicted of trying to send money and arms to al-Qaeda in Iraq. Neither was charged with planning an attack in the US.

The "Bowling Green Massacre" quickly went viral, trending on Twitter as users suggested other fake atrocities.

Ivanka plug


Conway committed "her gravest gaffe yet" in early February, says The Guardian, in a television interview in which she was asked about department store Nordstrom's decision to stop stocking Ivanka Trump's clothing line.

"Go buy Ivanka's stuff, is what I would tell you. I'm going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online," she said, in an apparent breach of federal ethics rules preventing officials from using their position to enhance the wealth of their associates.

The incident proved the "first major confrontation between House Republicans and Trump", says The Guardian, with ethics committee chairman Jason Chaffetz branding her actions "wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable".

Trump's close-knit team made a rare public acknowledgement of the blunder, saying Conway had been "counselled" on her behaviour - although it also stressed that the administration "absolutely" supported her.

How did Conway become Trump's senior adviser?

Born Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, Conway grew up in New Jersey under the care of her divorced mother and her grandmother and aunts.

She began her life in politics while studying at law school, working as a research assistant for a Republican polling firm before becoming become a full-time consultant – the beginning of her climb through the male-dominated party ranks.

"When I walk into a meeting at the RNC [Republican National Convention] or somewhere, I always feel like I'm walking into a bachelor party in the locker room of the Elks club," she told the New Yorker last year.

Her career reached new and very public heights in August 2016, when she became Trump's third – and, it transpired, final - campaign manager.

Conway was "lauded as the 'Trump whisperer'", says the New Yorker, and credited with bringing stability and order to the chaotic campaign.

As a reward, she was named counsellor to the president, one of the most senior advisory positions in the White House.


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