White House counselor Kellyanne Conway alleges she was assaulted in a restaurant during the fall of 2018 while she was with her middle school-aged daughter and her daughter's friends. A Maryland resident has been charged in the case.
Conway told CNN's Dana Bash that a woman came toward her "screaming her head off" while dining in October at Uncle Julio's, a Mexican restaurant in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Bethesda, Maryland. Authorities later identified the woman as Mary Elizabeth Inabinett, a 63-year-old Maryland resident.
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"Somebody was grabbing me from behind, grabbing my arms, and was shaking me to the point where I felt maybe somebody was hugging me. As I turned around, it just felt weird. It felt like that's a little aggressive and I turned around and the woman had grabbed my hips. She was just unhinged," Conway said in an interview for an upcoming CNN's 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," Conway continued.
Following the incident, Conway said she called 911, but Inabinett left before the local police arrived. Inabinett was charged in November with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct. The trial is set for next month in Maryland state court.
William Alden McDaniel Jr., who is serving as Inabinett's lawyer, disputed Conway ‘s account of the assault, saying his client will plead, "Not guilty."
"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.
Conway's account of her own experience comes after several reports last year of other Republican officials being harassed in public, the Washington Free Beacon previously reported.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted by protesters in a Mexican restaurant near the White House and had to leave. Senior White House Adviser Stephen Miller was yelled at as he ate at another Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and several family members were at the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia and were asked to leave by the restaurant co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson. When asked why she told Sanders to leave, Wilkinson told the Washington Post that Sanders works for a "inhumane and unethical" administration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and his wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, were confronted after leaving an event at Georgetown University.
These incidents sparked a national debate about civility and how citizens should protest the Trump administration or policies they disagree with generally. Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) encouraged voters to to "push back" on Trump administration officials and tell "them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere."