Kellyanne Conway cleared her throat for what she was about to say.
“I’m a victim of sexual assault,” President Trump’s adviser told CNN on Sunday.
Conway and anchor Jake Tapper were discussing the political edges of sexual assault allegations against Brett M. Kavanaugh in the wake of the Supreme Court nominee’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
A final vote on his nomination has been delayed to allow time for the FBI to investigate those allegations.
“I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape,” Conway said during the interview on “State of the Union.”
Then she paused and made her personal revelation.
“This is the first time I’ve ever heard you talk about something personal like that, and I’m really sorry,” said Tapper, who, like Conway herself, appeared taken aback.
“I’ve just had it,” she replied, referring to what she characterized as politically motivated accusations.
She said perpetrators should bear the responsibility for their actions but that conservatives have become targets for political score-settling.
“I don’t expect Judge Kavanaugh or Jake Tapper or [Arizona Republican Senator] Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that,” she said, appearing to speak about her own experience. “You have to be responsible for your own conduct.”
Conway did not immediately return a request for comment. It is notable, however, that she made the revelation on CNN, the network Trump has made perhaps his most frequent target of alleged media bias and “fake news.”
Tapper said that Conway’s boss, the president, has been the subject of numerous sexual assault allegations and has said that those women lied about them.
“Don’t conflate that with this, and certainly don’t conflate that with what happened to me,” she told Tapper.
Conway said the women making the allegations should be heard through the criminal justice system but not through partisan avenues.
“We do treat people differently who are either the victims or perpetrators of this based on their politics now or based on their gender now. That is a huge mistake,” she said.
Conway then turned to the camera briefly and said, “America, it’s a huge mistake.”
Conway previously defended Christine Blasey Ford, who on Thursday testified Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s when they were both high school students. He has denied the allegation.
Ford “should not be insulted, and she should not be ignored,” Conway said on Fox News, after Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. appeared to mock the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh on social media before Ford’s claims were publicly revealed by The Washington Post on Sept. 16.
Conway said Ford “should be heard,” but, she added, “so should he,” referring to Kavanaugh.
On Sunday, before she even left the CNN set, she appeared to anticipate inevitable social media and talk show backlash over her loyalty to Trump in the face of assault accusations against him and his lewd statements about women.
“How could she work for Donald Trump? I work for President Trump because he’s so good to the women who work for him,” she said. “So, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear it from any of them.”