White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said in an interview Friday that she was assaulted in a Maryland restaurant last year by a woman while Conway’s middle school-age daughter looked on and videotaped the altercation.
“Somebody was grabbing me from behind, grabbing my arms, and was shaking me to the point where I felt maybe somebody was hugging me,” Conway told CNN in an interview for an upcoming story in its series, “Badass Women of Washington.”
“She was out of control. I don’t even know how to explain her to you. She was just, her whole face was terror and anger. She was right here, and my daughter was right there. She ought to pay for that,” she added.
Conway said the woman was “screaming her head off” when she accosted her at Uncle Julio’s, a Mexican eatery in the DC suburb of Bethesda, where she was dining with her daughter and the girl’s friends.
She said she called 911, though the woman had split before cops arrived.
After an investigation, Maryland resident Mary Elizabeth Inabinett, 63, was charged in November with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct.
Inabinett’s attorney, William Alden McDaniel Jr., disputed Conway’s allegations and said his client would plead not guilty in a court appearance next month.
“Ms. Inabinett saw Kellyanne Conway, a public figure, in a public place, and exercised her First Amendment right to express her personal opinions. She did not assault Ms. Conway,” McDaniel said.
“The facts at trial will show this to be true, and show Ms. Conway’s account to be false,” he said in a statement.
According to the charging document obtained by CNN, Conway told police the shaking lasted a few seconds “but the suspect continued to yell and gesture at her for approximately 8-10 minutes before she was escorted from the restaurant.”
“The suspect was yelling ‘shame on you’ and other comments believed to be about Conway’s political views,” a police officer wrote based on an interview with the restaurant’s manager, who told police Conway and Inabinett were separated when she first saw them.
Conway’s daughter was able to shoot a short video of the altercation, which authorities used to match against a photo of Inabinett they had obtained from state vehicle records after getting her name from a restaurant receipt.
It was unclear whether the clip shows any physical contact between the two women.
Conway also positively identified the suspect during a visit to the Bethesda police station in November, according to the document.
She said she told President Trump about the incident “long after” it happened.
“What he always says, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK? Is your daughter OK? Are the other girls OK?’ ” Conway described Trump as saying to her.
Conway cited the episode as the latest example of members of the Trump administration being harassed because of their work for the president.
In June, the owner of a Virginia restaurant kicked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders from the premises. Days before that, protesters had booed and shouted at Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as she ate at a Mexican restaurant in Washington.
“The idea that we should be treated differently because of anything, of anything, because of where we work or what we believe or what we’re trying to do on behalf of this great nation, that’s complete nonsense,” Conway said.
Pressed about the president’s own heated rhetoric possibly igniting acts of right-wing harassment, Conway defended her boss and referred to the intense focus on the words coming out of the White House.
“You violated my challenge, which is to try to form a sentence, let alone a paragraph, and not mention Donald Trump. Nobody seems capable of doing it. It seems like it’s a physiological impediment for the world,” she said.
“What’s necessary is for people to understand — in front of everybody but especially in front of 13- and 14-year-old girls — that you need to control your temper, control yourself. You need to get over the damn 2016 election and do that because chances are — the big chances and I believe — that this man will be re-elected,” she said.
“I don’t want it to become a thing. I just want it to become a teachable moment for everyone that this all has consequences.”
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