By Claire Zillman
February 23, 2017

Kellyanne Conway, a top advisor to President Donald Trump, made her return to TV on Wednesday after a weeklong hiatus, and said family matters were to blame for her absence.

Media reports had suggested that the White House had suspended Conway from appearing on air. CNN, citing unnamed sources, reported that the high-profile Trump surrogate was sidelined for making statements that contradicted the administration’s official stances. Conway also drew ire from the government’s ethics watchdog, which urged the White House to investigate and possibly discipline Conway after she used a TV appearance to endorse Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. In another appearance, she referenced the nonexistent “Bowling Green Massacre” while defending Trump’s controversial travel ban. Conway also stated on-air that the administration had full confidence in National Security Advisor Michael Flynn just hours before Trump accepted his resignation. Those incidents prompted Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski to tell viewers last week that Conway was “not credible anymore.”

Conway, in denying she was ever benched by the White House, offered a different defense on Wednesday.

“I don’t think I have to explain myself if I’m not going on TV if I’m out with four kids for three days looking at houses and schools,” she said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity from the floor of the Conservative Political Action Conference. She added: “A lot of my colleagues aren’t trying to figure out how to be a mother of four kids, I assure you.”

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That latter statement echoed concerns Conway voiced about the Trump administration’s accommodation of working parents in December. At the time, she seemed to suggest that she might turn down a White House job because it would be incompatible with caring for a young family. She has four children under age 12 and a husband who works full-time as a litigator.

At Politico’s Women Rule event, Conway said that women have more opportunities for roles in government and politics, but that they are limited by the choices they must make. She recalled talks about a possible role in the White House, saying that senior campaign officials would tell her, “I know you have four kids but…”

“I said there’s nothing that comes after the ‘but’ that makes any sense to me so don’t even try. Like what is the but?” she said:

“But they’ll eat Cheerios for the rest of the day? Nobody will brush their teeth again until I get home? And I do politely mention to them the question isn’t would you take the job, the male sitting across from me who’s going to take a big job in the White House. The question is would you want your wife to. Would you want the mother of your children to? You really see their entire visage change. It’s like, ‘Oh, no, they wouldn’t want their wife to take that job.’ But it’s, it’s all good.”

Conway, of course, did end up taking a prominent role in the Trump administration, but the comments she made to Hannity are correct in that she’s lacking female colleagues who might be facing the same familiar pressures. (Certainly men working in the White House could be juggling caregiving responsibilities, as well, but her comments cited mothers, specifically.) Trump’s cabinet of 23 advisors features just four women, and a USA Today analysis found that even at the aide level, men outnumber women 2 to 1.

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