White House counselor Kellyanne Conway fumed that CNN’s Dana Bash was attempting to “harass and embarrass” her on air this Sunday after Bash brought up anti-Trump tweets written by Conway’s husband.
On State of the Union, Bash referenced a since-deleted tweet by Conway’s husband, attorney George Conway, in which he said it was “absurd” for President Donald Trump to keep contradicting his own aides. It was one of many critical messages George Conway has written or retweeted about Trump since he took office.
But Conway insisted that the questions were inappropriate and a “double standard,” saying, “We’re now going to talk about other people’s spouses and significant others just because they either work at the White House or CNN? Are we going to do that? You just went there.”
“By definition, spouses have a difference of opinion when adultery is happening,” Conway continued. “By definition, spouses have a difference of opinion when one is, I don’t know, draining the joint bank account to support things that maybe the other disagrees with. So this is a fascinating ‘cross the Rubicon’ moment.” It’s unclear what Conway meant by
It’s unclear what Conway meant by the “adultery” and “joint bank account” comments. The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for clarification, and neither did spokespeople for Bash. Bash is twice-divorced. She was married to Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff at the Pentagon and CIA, who frequently appears on CNN and MSNBC as a national-security commentator. In 2008, she married — and, four years later, divorced — fellow CNN anchor John King, with whom she has a young son.
Conway also told Bash that she wouldn’t have raised the question if Conway were a man.
“I would ask you that if you were a man and your wife … a thousand percent I would,” Bash shot back. “It’s not about that. It’s about questioning — publicly questioning what you are doing for a living and with regard to your boss.”
“There are other family members of people who work at the White House who certainly don’t support the President privately and publicly,” Conway pushed back. “There has been a different standard for me than there have been for other people. We bite our tongue plenty because I work for the people of this country, the United States government, and the presidency and the President of the United States, so there is plenty that I don’t say.”
CNN noted in an article that Conway herself recently referenced former FBI Director James Comey’s revelation that his wife and daughters voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, in what the outlet said was an effort to “target [Comey’s] own political leanings.”
George Conway, who Trump once considered nominating as solicitor general, last month retweeted CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins’ message accusing Trump of contradicting his aides.
“So true,” George Conway wrote in response, according to the Huffington Post. “Which is why people are banging down doors to be his comms director.” He later deleted the tweet.
George Conway did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Conway later tweeted about the tense CNN exchange, saying she couldn’t “comprehend” why Bash would ask her about her husband’s tweets.
On CNN’s New Day Monday morning, anchor Alisyn Camerota criticized Conway’s suggestion that spouses are off-limits in political debate, noting Trump’s own habit of bashing the spouses of his political rivals.
“Let’s just remember for one second that it is also President Trump who has gone after Ted Cruz’s wife, [former FBI deputy director] Andrew Mccabe‘s wife,” Camerota said. “So Kellyanne Conway saying ‘you never go after the spouse,’ tell your boss.”