Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump’s senior White House adviser, said a woman assaulted her in a Mexican restaurant in Maryland last year while her middle school-aged daughter was present.
Conway, speaking to CNN in a clip of an interview aired Friday, spoke publicly about the assault allegation for the first since the October incident. She said the woman charged in the incident came up to her “screaming her head off” while she was out with her daughter and her daughter’s friends for dinner.
“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. “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 ought to pay for that, because she has no right to touch anybody.”
Conway said she called 911 but the woman had already left. Conway’s daughter had taken video of the encounter, which police used to help identify 63-year-old Mary Elizabeth Inabinett after pulling her name from a receipt at the restaurant.
According to charging documents obtained by CNN, Conway told police that the woman shook her for 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.” A restaurant manager also told the police that “the suspect was yelling ‘shame on you’ and other comments believed to be about Conway’s political views.”
Inabinett was charged in November with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct, and her trial is scheduled for March in Maryland state court. Inabinett’s lawyer, William Alden McDaniel Jr., told CNN his client would plead not guilty and disputed Conway’s account of the incident.
“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. The facts at trial will show this to be true, and show Ms. Conway’s account to be false,” McDaniel said in a statement to the network.
That incident comes months after a string of public scoldings of other Trump administration officials around the administration’s systemic separation of migrant families attempting to enter the country. In June, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and anti-immigrant policy architect Stephen Miller all had meals interrupted by protesters demanding an end to the policy. Miller also trashed some overpriced sushi after a bartender gave him the finger.
Conway called the idea that Trump staffers should be treated differently in public for their work with the administration “complete nonsense.” She also said she initially didn’t want to talk about the incident publicly because her daughter and other children were involved.
“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,” Conway told CNN. “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.”