At the height of President-elect Donald Trump’s feud with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, a Fox executive went to extreme lengths to convince the campaign that her life was at risk.
As Kelly told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a Wednesday night interview, Trump’s supporters, including one of his own staffers, harassed her and sent her death threats after she asked him a pointed question about his behavior towards women in the first Republican presidential debate.
“We had security guards the whole year,” Kelly said. “I mean the threat level got so high that it was impossible not to take that seriously.”
Cooper asked how the Trump campaign fed that fire.
“Michael Cohen, who is Trump’s top lawyer and executive vice president with the Trump Organization had retweeted ‘let’s gut her,’ about me,” Kelly said. “At a time when the threat level was very high, which he knew. And Bill Shine, an executive vice president of Fox, called him up to say, ‘You got to stop this. We understand you are angry but she’s got three kids and is walking around New York.’”
“And he didn’t much care,” Kelly continued. “And what Bill Shine said to Michael Cohen was, ‘Let me put it to you in terms you can understand: If Megyn Kelly gets killed it is not going help your candidate.’”
Kelly said Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager who was hired by CNN as a commentator before quitting to take a job in the Trump administration, “specifically threatened me if I showed up at the second debate.”
Noting that as recently as late October, when Kelly brought up allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump on air, his onetime golf caddie turned social media manager Dan Scavino issued a veiled threat online.
“Watch what happens to her after this election is over,” he tweeted about Kelly.
Kelly said these were “not your normal tactics unleashed against a journalist who asked a tough question.”
Though the Fox host gave a softball interview to Trump in May, the President-elect periodically reignited his Twitter war against her throughout the campaign when she covered his campaign in a way he found unfair.
Kelly said she declined to tell these stories before her book “Settle For More” came out because she “didn’t want to be the story.”
“Trump kept trying to make it about me and the story was about him and Hillary Clinton but in the early days him and the other Republicans,” she told Cooper. “I write in the book they felt like a human being who had been dropped into a shark tank and there were passersby looking in and slightly horrified at what was going on. And all I wanted to do last year was get myself out of the shark tank.”
Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, has been known to make aggressive threats towards those who cross his boss. Last year, the Daily Beast published a story surfacing Trump’s ex-wife’s Ivana’s decades-old claim that the President-elect raped her. While Ivana Trump later said she didn’t mean it in “the criminal sense,” Cohen argued that spousal rape was not real. He also warned the two Daily Beast reporters behind the story that if they published it, he would sue the publication and destroy their careers.
“I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting,” Cohen told them.
Watch a clip of Kelly’s interview below:
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 17, 2016