George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, said Friday that the degradation of the rule of law under President Donald Trump – including attacks on the freedom of the press – risked turning the US into a “banana republic.”
The rule of law, Conway said, is “something we ought to be able to take for granted, but something, sadly, that we need to start talking and thinking about a lot more.”
Conway is one of the founders of Checks and Balances, a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers who are critical of Trump’s approach on legal and political institutions. The group was co-sponsoring a conference with the Georgetown University Law Center on the rule of law.
In his remarks, the conservative lawyer noted Trump’s criticism of his own attorney general for allowing congressmen who supported him to be indicted for federal crimes.
“If people were to get indicted or not indicted on the basis of whether the President likes them, we wouldn’t have a republic, we’d have a banana republic,” Conway said.
Conway also identified recent attacks on the freedom of the press as an example of how the rule of law is being undermined. Conway noted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s recent opinion calling for a reconsideration of The New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark case establishing that actual malice standard for libel cases.
“I think that case should be left alone,” he said. “I kind of like the fact that you can tweet at rich public officials without fear of retribution in the courts.”
Conway has frequently used his Twitter account to lob criticisms at Trump, even as his wife continues to work as a close adviser to the President. Although he was reportedly up for a high-level job in the Justice Department in 2017, Conway ultimately withdrew from consideration. He later said on a podcast that he declined to join the administration because it was “like a s***show in a dumpster fire.”