Conway, a top Trump aide, says she was shaken by an "unhinged" woman at a restaurant, but the woman's attorney says she wasn't violent and only sharing her opinions

By Dave Quinn
February 08, 2019 10:56 AM

Kellyanne Conway says she was confronted in October in a Maryland restaurant by a woman who grabbed and shook her — an incident her accused attacker denies, saying she was only expressing her personal views to the top White House aide.

In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that aired on Friday morning, Conway, 52, said that she had been approached by Mary Elizabeth Inabinett while standing at the eatery with her teenage daughter and her daughter’s friends. 

“Somebody was grabbing me from behind and grabbed my arms and was shaking me, to the point where I thought that maybe somebody was hugging me — one of the other parents coming to pick up his or her daughter,” recalled Conway, a counselor to President Donald Trump.

“It just felt weird,” Conway said. “It just felt — ‘Well this is a little aggressive.’ “

As Conway turned around, the woman had grabbed her hands, Conway said on CNN.

“She was unhinged. She was out of control,” Conway said. “I don’t even know how to even explain her to you. Her whole face was terror and anger. She was right here and my daughter was right there. And she ought to pay for that. She ought to pay for that, because she has no right to touch anybody.”

Inabinett, the accused, has been charged with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct, PEOPLE confirms.

Inabinett’s attorney, William Alden McDaniel Jr., said that his client would be pleading not guilty when she goes to trial in March.

McDaniel said Inabinett was not violent.

“Ms. Inabinett saw Kellyanne Conway, a public figure, in a public place, and exercised her First Amendment right to express her personal opinions,” he told PEOPLE in a statement. “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.”

Speaking with CNN, Conway remembered the encounter differently.

“[Inabinett] put her hands on me,” she alleged. “I said, ‘Get your hands off of me.’ She put her hands on me and was shaking me and was doing it from the front with my daughter right there, who then video-taped her. … And let me tell you something, she would not leave the restaurant. She kept going on and on, she went outside. She just wouldn’t stop. This woman thinks it’s okay to touch someone else. It’s not okay.”

Kellyanne Conway
Gerald Herbert/AP

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Conway told CNN that she called 911 and that the police arrived on the scene but did not arrest Inabinett at the time.

“She had already gone,” Conway said.

She said that she later told President Trump about what happened.

He asked her, “Are you okay?” she recalled. “Were you okay? Was your daughter okay? Were the other girls okay?”

Conway told CNN she had been hesitant to speak out: “That’s what I cared about, is other people’s kids there.”

“Which is why I didn’t want to talk about it publicly,” she continued. “But I don’t want it to become a thing. I just want it to become a teachable moment for everyone.”

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