Kellyanne Conway tells CNN: "I'm a victim of sexual assault"

Conway serves as Counselor to the President and was appointed campaign manager for Donald Trump in August 2016

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 30, 2018 2:00PM (EDT)

Kellyanne Conway (AP/Alex Brandon)
Kellyanne Conway (AP/Alex Brandon)

Kellyanne Conway, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump who currently serves as his Counselor to the President, opened up to CNN's Jake Tapper and admitted that she is a sexual assault victim.

"I'm a victim of sexual assault," Conway told Tapper after clearing her throat. "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. This is not Bill Cosby. Those comparisons I hear on the network are a disgrace and the anchor should have called them out."

She added, "This is not even Bill Clinton. You have Senate Judiciary Committee members who refuse to remove Bill Clinton from office after he received oral sex in the Oval Office and lied about it to a grand jury as President of the United States. The hypocrisy is ridiculous. And if not one Senate Judiciary Committee member changes his or her vote because of what they learned from the FBI investigation, that tells you all you need to know about what the president and Judge Kavanaugh has said is a sham. Let's just be honest about what this is about. It's raw partisan politics."

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Conway opened up about her own past experience as a sexual assault victim as she and Tapper discussed the accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She mentioned Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona because he was famously confronted by two sexual assault victims in an elevator shortly after he announced that he would vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation. She also referenced Bill Cosby, the famous comedian who was convicted last week on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, and Bill Clinton, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct (although Conway seemed to be referring to Clinton's perjured testimony regarding a consensual sexual affair that occurred during his presidency).

Kavanaugh's accusers include California research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford and his former Yale undergraduate classmate Deborah Ramirez.

"This is the first time that I've ever heard you talk about something personal like that and I'm really sorry," Tapper told Conway after she opened up about her experiences.

"Well, I've just had it! I've just had it with it all being the same!" Conway exclaimed, presumably still referring to the accusations against Kavanaugh.

"But you work for a president who says that all of the women who have accused him are lying. There have been a number of people who —" Tapper pointed out.

"And don't conflate like that with this!" Conway exclaimed. "And certainly don't conflate it with what happened to me. It would be a huge mistake, Jake, let's not do it. Let's not do it. Let's not always bring Trump into everything that happens in this universe. That's mistake Number One."

Tapper explained why he had mentioned the president.

"President Trump said his personal experiences have informed his view of this. That's the only reason I'm bringing that up," Tapper pointed out. "He was asked about that. He said yes, it informed how he'd look at it, 'because I've had so many false allegations against me.' That's what he said. So my question is, as a survivor of this — and again, I'm deeply, personally very sorry about whatever pain you've gone through..."

"Thank you," Conway interjected.

"... but does that not make you think, when you hear somebody like Professor Ford or other people make allegations, does that not make you think these women need to be heard and even if there are not corroborating witnesses, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence?" Tapper asked.

Conway replied that women should be heard, but added that she felt Republicans were being treated differently than Democrats because of their politics.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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