Note: This article originally appeared in The New Yorker.
A few minutes after Trump’s announcement, I began a previously arranged conversation with one of the President’s most acerbic Republican critics, George Conway, who is also, as much of America now knows, the husband of Trump’s White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway. George Conway, a successful conservative lawyer, who turned down a top job in Trump’s Justice Department, has, in the past year, become an unlikely social-media celebrity, and his frequent tweets skewering the President whom his wife serves has made their home life a staple of late-night-television jokes. Conway recently made a rare public appearance, at a Georgetown University conference devoted to threats to the rule of law under Trump, where he warned that the country risked becoming a “banana republic.” I wanted to know more about what Conway meant, but, in the meantime, Trump’s decision to ground the planes had caught the attention of both of us. Was it a distraction? A scandal? An example of Trump doing the right thing? On the merits, no one seemed to disagree with the move. And yet the announcement in the Oval Office, followed by a lengthy rant about there being “no collusion” with Russia and about the border wall that the President says he is building, even though he isn’t, seemed so Trumpy.