Kellyanne Conway Says She Was a Victim of Sexual Assault

Kellyanne Conway Says She Was a Victim of Sexual Assault
Kellyanne Conway Says She Was a Victim of Sexual Assault

Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Trump, said on Sunday that she was a victim of sexual assault and that the Supreme Court confirmation proceedings of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh should not become a broader “meeting” of the #MeToo movement, suggesting instead that victims hold their assailants directly accountable.

Ms. Conway made the personal revelation during an interview with Jake Tapper on the CNN program “State of the Union” during which she largely derided the “partisan politics” of Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing on Thursday.

Christine Blasey Ford said during the hearing that Judge Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her decades ago when they were teenagers, an allegation he then angrily denied.

Many, including Democratic senators, have seen Dr. Blasey’s testimony as a rallying cry for survivors of sexual abuse, saying that a vote for Judge Kavanaugh would be an endorsement of not only the alleged behavior but of a culture that condones it and dismisses its victims.

Ms. Conway pushed back against that notion.

“I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape,” Ms. Conway said.

She then paused and cleared her throat.

“I’m a victim of sexual assault,” she said. “I don’t expect Judge Kavanaugh or Jake Tapper or Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that. You have to be responsible for your own conduct.”

She was referring to Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, who had been confronted by two women who said they were sexual abuse victims about his intention to vote for Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Ms. Conway said those women should “go blame the perpetrator.”

Mr. Tapper later said, “This is the first time I’ve ever heard you talk about something personal like that,” adding, “I’m really sorry that you went through that.”

He asked a question, noting that Ms. Conway works for President Trump, who himself has denied allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Don’t conflate that with this and certainly don’t conflate that with what happened to me,” Ms. Conway responded. “Let’s not always bring Trump into everything that happens in this universe. That’s mistake No. 1.”

She did not go into further detail about her own experience and could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.

In an interview with MSNBC in 2016, Ms. Conway said that when she was younger, she knew members of Congress who were “rubbing up against girls, sticking their tongues down women’s throats who, uninvited, who didn’t like it.”

At Politico’s Women Rule Summit more than a year later, Ms. Conway referred to that interview, saying that some members of Congress had tried to “shove their tongue down my throat or rub or do worse,” but asserted that “nobody wanted to hear about it” because she was aligned with Mr. Trump.

“Every time that happened to me, when I was younger and in the workplace, every time that happened to me, I always told a friend, I always told a female relative,” she said. “There is shame involved because you tend to think it’s on you, ‘It’s your fault,’ somehow.”

Ms. Conway said at the summit that she never saw those men as powerful after the encounters. “I looked at them as weak and pathetic,” she said.

It was not clear if those experiences were the basis of her comments to Mr. Tapper.

She said she found Dr. Blasey “compelling” and “credible.” But she suggested that perhaps Dr. Blasey was misremembering who was responsible for the assault, and expressed support for Judge Kavanaugh.

“They both could be right that something truly awful happened to her in the summer of 1982 by someone, somehow, somewhere, and that Judge Kavanaugh was not involved,” she said.

Ms. Conway said that all victims of sexual assault should be heard in courts of law and in criminal or civil proceedings. She emphasized that the Senate proceedings were not a criminal trial, but a hearing on whether Judge Kavanaugh was qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

“But we do treat people differently who are either the victims or perpetrators of this based on their politics and based on their gender,” Ms. Conway said.

The F.B.I. is now investigating Dr. Blasey’s allegation, though some have questioned the scope of that investigation.

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