White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway revealed that she was the victim of sexual assault, a disclosure made Sunday during a television appearance as she defended the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
As the FBI conducts a probe into Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, who faces several public allegations of sexual misconduct, Conway acknowledged her own status as a victim on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape,” she told host Jake Tapper. “I’m a victim of sexual assault.”
But she added that victims should confront their attackers, and mentioned the women who spoke directly to Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in a Senate elevator on Friday after he had released a statement indicating he would vote for Kavanaugh. Maria Gallagher, 23, pleaded to a grim-faced Flake: “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me.”
Flake, later said he would vote in favor of the nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but requested that the FBI conduct an investigation into the sexual assault allegations. Trump subsequently ordered the probe.
“I don’t expect Judge Kavanuagh or Jake Tapper or Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that. You have to be responsible for your own conduct,” Conway said.
“Let’s just be honest what this is about. It’s raw, partisan politics,” Conway said during the interview. “I want those women who were sexually assaulted the other day, who were confronting Jeff Flake — God bless them — but go blame the perpetrator. That’s who’s responsible for our sexual assaults, the people who commit them.”
Conway told Tapper it was unfair to compare Kavanaugh with other men accused of sexual misconduct over the years, including former President Bill Clinton and actor and comedian Bill Cosby, who began serving a prison sentence last week after he was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman.
In one exchange, Tapper referred to sexual misconduct allegations that have been made against Trump. “You work for a president who says that all the women who have accused him are lying.”
Conway responded, “And don’t conflate that with this. And certainly don’t conflate it with what happened to me . . . Let’s not always bring Trump into everything that happens in this universe. That’s mistake number one.”
Tapper asked whether people like Christine Blasey Ford, one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, or other victims who make allegations, should be heard, even if corroborating witnesses do not come forward.
“They should all be heard, and they should be heard in courts of law, they should be heard in depositions, they should be heard in proceedings,” Conway said. “Those who can prosecute those who have civil and/or criminal causes of actions should pursue that. But we do treat people differently who are either the victims or the perpetrators of this based on their politics, now, and based on their gender. That is a huge mistake. America, it’s a huge mistake.”
Conway also said in the interview, “I work for President Trump because he’s so good to the women who work for him and he’s so good to the women of this country, who are much better off with security and prosperity because of his leadership.”