Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump and one of the most public faces of his administration, revealed on Sunday that she had been a victim of sexual assault.
Conway made the disclosure to CNN's Jake Tapper on his State of the Union news show while defending Trump's embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
"I feel very empathetic, frankly, towards victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape," she said, before pausing to clear her throat. "I'm a victim of sexual assault. 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 added, visibly emotional.
Tapper, who appeared to have been caught off-guard, offered his sympathies.
"This is the first time I've ever heard you talk about something personal like that, and I'm sorry," he said.
"I've just had it," she replied.
Tapper then noted that Conway continues to work for President Trump, though numerous sexual misconduct allegations have been lodged against him. But Conway, who had earlier in the interview argued that sexual assault was being used as a pretext to pursue political agendas, returned to the same theme.
"Don't conflate that with this, and certainly don't conflate it with what happened to me," she hit back. "Don't always bring Trump into everything that happens in this universe. That's mistake number one."
The court nomination has been upended by the allegations, and President Donald Trump was forced to order the FBI to look into them after several moderate Republicans, whose votes could be crucial for Kavanaugh's confirmation, called for a probe.
One Kavanaugh accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, detailed her allegation in testimony before a Senate panel Thursday that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school in the 1980s. Appearing afterward before the committee, Kavanaugh repeated his categorical denial.
The swirling allegations have led other sexual assault victims to come forward to tell their stories. At least three women have now accused the 53-year-old conservative judge of sexual misconduct while drunk, both as a high school student and later at Yale University.
Conway suggested Sunday that the ire of many victims was improperly pointed at Republican supporters of Kavanaugh, as opposed to the perpetrators of the assaults.
"It's not a meeting of the #MeToo movement," she told CNN. "It's raw partisan politics."
For the past 12 months, women and men have shared stories of sexual harassment and abuse under the social media hashtag '#MeToo.' In that time, the careers of a number of prominent men in entertainment, politics and finance have been toppled in the face of accusations of sexual misconduct.