US & Canada

What we learned from @Kellyanneleaks

kellanne conway at the White HOuse Image copyright Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway was overheard at a party criticising colleagues, and her comments were posted on Twitter. Her snarkiness revealed a lot about Conway - and about the White House too.

Conway, a top adviser to Trump, stood at the top of the steps of a mansion on Embassy Row. The air smelled of eucalyptus, a scent wafting from incense burners in the garden.

At the party, she was trash-talking her co-workers. She was especially entertaining - and savage - about Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff. She imitated his voice, showing the way he warned others about the dangers of leaking information to the media.

Clearly Priebus was in trouble, and possibly others too.

She also spoke lightly - and in a slightly dismissive way - about Marc Short, the president's legislative affairs director, and other senior members of the administration.

One of the guests at the party took notes and posted her comments, along with a bunch of photos, on Twitter.

Conway fired back. She said on Monday she didn't do anything wrong at the party. "I won't divulge confidential information," she explained on Fox News.

Rightly or wrongly, on that evening she offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the White House, underscoring the administration's discord.

What she said that night - and the freewheeling way she expressed herself - was a reflection of the faction-riddled, chaotic White House. Sometimes the White House, along with its key aides, seems to spin out of control and then set itself straight again.

Image caption The @Kellyanneleaks account shared comments she made at an embassy party

That's how it seemed when Conway went on a rant about Priebus. Here are things that the moment at the party revealed and why people should pay attention.

1: Conway is focused - eerily so

While she was mocking Priebus, she didn't notice that someone was taking pictures. When she's on a tear, she's unstoppable.

I've seen her doing a live shot outside of the West Wing - in the midst of a steady drumbeat from the White House Honor Guard (they were practising for the arrival of King Abdullah II of Jordan) and a robin that dive-bombed inches from her head, angling for a nest on a pole behind her.

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Image caption While doing a live shot at the White House, Conway stayed cool despite chaos around her

Conway remained composed during the shot, showing the kind of stamina that's needed to survive in the administration. For this reason, she's a steady guide to internal White House operations.

2: She's playful with language - and she's observant

Conway notices the way that Priebus and others speak (she's a good mimic). In addition she coins phrases such as "alternative facts", a term that showed how she and her colleagues see the world.

She and her colleagues look at things differently than journalists in the mainstream media do, a rift that has only deepened over time. When you listen to her, you get a sense of how people in the administration think - and gain knowledge about their world.

3: She is devoted to the president

She used to complain about working for Trump, at least according to the Morning Joe co-hosts, and was dismissive about the undertaking.

However she felt about Trump in the past, she's loyal to him now.

Like many of her colleagues, she was not a lifelong devotee of the president. But she's taken on her job with enthusiasm. When she was talking about Priebus, she nevertheless conveyed a deep commitment to the president.

4: She's in a fierce power struggle

The day after she ripped into Priebus, she went to the Rose Garden for a news conference with Trump and President Klaus Iohannis of Romania.

Hair flying in the wind, she headed for a chair in the front row. As she got closer, she realised the seat was reserved for someone else. She straightened herself up and headed for the second row. (Another aide, someone who was watching Conway from across the lawn, snickered.)

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The future of Priebus has been the subject of speculation

A moment later Priebus took the front-row seat. For all Conway had said about him, he was nevertheless closer to the president than she was - at least that day.

Now, according to Politico, Trump says he wants a shake-up at the White House, and Priebus could be out by 4 July.

It's the Trump Show, though, and things will change again soon.

That's why it's good to pay attention to what Conway and the other aides say and how they say it. Their words, even those thrown out during a party, matter.