Less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump sent an incendiary tweet casting doubt on the domestic violence allegations against recently resigned staff secretary Rob Porter, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway took to the airwaves to run damage control. And in doing so, she claimed something flat-out false about Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, adding another entry to the long list of untrue and misleading claims she’s made in cable news interviews.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted that “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” an apparent response to Porter’s resignation.
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
The tweet elicited a sharp response from Gillibrand, who replied that Trump “has shown through words and actions that he doesn’t value women,” and suggested that if he “wants due process for the over dozen sexual assault allegations against him, let’s have Congressional hearings tomorrow.”
Responding to @SenGillibrand’s tweet that Congress should hold hearings with women who have accused Pres. Trump of sexual assault, @KellyannePolls tells @GStephanopoulos “Those accusers have had their day…I don’t need a lecture from Kirsten Gillibrand or anybody else.” #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/iefif4Nh4q— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) February 11, 2018
Appearing on ABC with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Conway dismissed Gillibrand’s criticisms, saying she didn’t “need a lecture” from the New York senator. She also derisively claimed Trump’s multiple sexual assault accusers had their due process when they were “trotted out” during the 2016 election.
“Those accusers have had their day on your network and elsewhere for a long time, they were trotted out again late last year, and I don’t need a lecture from Kirsten Gillibrand or anybody else who protected and defended and harbored a sitting president who had sex relations in the Oval Office, and was impeached for lying―I don’t need a lecture from her or anybody else.”
Conway also noted that Gillibrand has since said that Clinton should have resigned. What she didn’t note, however, is that Gillibrand was not elected to the U.S. Senate until 2006, eight years after the Clinton impeachment. In 1998, she was still working as an attorney and had not yet entered the world of politics. To what extent a private citizen can meaningfully “protect, defend, or harbor” a sitting president is, to put it generously, unclear.
In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union the same morning, Conway also stated she’s not concerned about White House communications director Hope Hicks potentially becoming a victim of domestic violence, in part because of what a “strong” woman she is, with “good instincts.”
Media reports have suggested that Hicks was involved in a romantic relationship with Porter when the domestic violence allegations broke; the belief that “strong” women don’t become victims of violence is widely considered a fallacious form of victim-blaming.
This is not the first time Conway has trafficked in this kind of controversial rhetoric. In 2013, she suggested that if men and women were equals in physical strength, then “rape would not exist.”
When Tapper challenged Conway’s characterization, she backtracked, clarifying that “many women get abused, no question.”