By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A Maryland woman faces charges that she assaulted White House counselor Kellyanne Conway in front of her teenage daughter during a confrontation last year at a restaurant in a Washington suburb.
Mary Elizabeth Inabinett, 63, of Chevy Chase, was charged in November with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct and has a trial tentatively scheduled to start March 29, court records show.
Conway told police she was attending a birthday party Oct. 14 at a Mexican restaurant in Bethesda when she felt somebody grab her shoulders from behind and shake her, according to a charging document prepared by Montgomery County police. The woman who confronted Conway yelled, "Shame on you," and "other comments believed to about Conway's political views," the document says.
Inabinett's attorney, William Alden McDaniel, Jr., said in a statement that his client exercised her First Amendment right "to express her personal opinions" about a public figure in a public place. McDaniel said his client didn't assault Conway and will plead not guilty to the misdemeanor charges.
"The facts at trial will show this to be true, and show Ms. Conway's account to be false," the lawyer's statement says.
"Her 'First Amendment' right to scream like a lunatic does not include touching me or anyone else," Conway told The Associated Press in an email.
In a CNN interview broadcast Friday, Conway said she was standing next to her middle school-aged daughter and some of her daughter's friends when the woman began shaking her "to the point where I thought maybe somebody was hugging me." She said it felt "weird" and "a little aggressive," so she turned around to face the woman.
"She was just unhinged. She was out of control," she said. "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."
The restaurant's manager told police the woman who confronted Conway had to be forcibly removed from the premises. Conway told police the woman yelled and gestured at her for 8 to 10 minutes before she was escorted out of the restaurant.
Conway wasn't injured, according to the charging document. The woman who confronted her was gone by the time police arrived, but restaurant staff helped police identify her as a suspect, and Conway's daughter provided officers with a short video clip and photograph of the encounter.
Conway said she told President Donald Trump about the incident "long after" it happened. She said Trump asked her, "Are you OK? Is your daughter OK? Are the other girls OK?"
Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.