Lara Trump, who is not only married to Eric Trump but is also a senior adviser to her father-in-law’s 2020 re-election campaign, used International Women’s Day to say two nice things about her father-in-law’s record on women that are not exactly true.
In an interview on Fox Business with Maria Bartiromo that covered topics ranging from trade tariffs to the 2020 election, the discussion turned to International Women’s Day. Bartiromo contrasted a February NBC interview where Ivanka Trump rejected a question about the 14 women accusing her father of sexual assault with a recent ABC interview with Chelsea Clinton where she was not asked about Bill Clinton. She asked Lara Trump what she thought about that. Lara Trump called it “shocking, ridiculous, sad,” and lamented the “double standard” in the media.
Bartiromo then said, “we will leave it there — the president actually has a lot of women in his administration, doesn’t he?”
Lara Trump replied, “yes, the most of any president, I believe, and one of the first, or I think the first to have a woman in charge of his campaign, so there you go.”
Bartiromo inexplicably ended the interview by saying, “all right, congrats, good to see you Lara, thank you so much.” It’s unclear whether Lara Trump was being congratulated for her father’s hiring practices or something else.
In any case, Trump’s claim that the Trump administration has more women in his administration than any president is false on several fronts.
Trump has appointed five women to cabinet-level positions in his first term, while Barack Obama appointed eight in both his first and second terms, and Bill Clinton appointed seven during his first term and six during his second term, according to an analysis done by the Center for Women and American Politics. Both George W. Bush and his father appointed four women during each of their terms, and presidents from Reagan back to Washington have unsurprisingly few women cabinet appointees. The women Trump appointed are: SBA Secretary Linda McMahon, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. This analysis did not include acting officials — for instance, in the Trump administration Elaine Duke briefly became acting DHS secretary after John Kelly moved to the White House, and Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates last year.
Below the cabinet level positions in that analysis, the trend still holds. When Bloomberg News took a look at the Trump administration appointments in March 2017, it found that just 27 percent of them were women. An analysis done last September by the progressive Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century found that 20 percent of Trump’s Senate-confirmable nominees were women.
A 2012 New York Times analysis found that in the Obama administration’s first term, 43 percent of appointees were women. This was similar to the percentage in the Clinton administration, and up from about a third of the appointees in the George W. Bush administration.
Last September, the Trump administration made headlines with its sixth wave of U.S. attorney nominations because only one out of 42 nominees were women. During the same period, Obama had nominated 20 U.S. attorneys, and five were women. Of Obama’s first 42 nominees, 12 were women. George W. Bush had nominated 47 as of the first September of his presidency, with five of them being women.
In the two months after those September headlines, the Trump administration nominated 11 more U.S. attorneys, and only two were women, continuing the trend.
Trump has appointed a number of women in certain parts of the White House — though as Brookings notes, none of the appointments break any new ground and it’s difficult to make an administration-by-administration comparison of West Wing staff.
During the transition, spokesman Jason Miller said that the Executive Branch “will be very broad and diverse, both with the Cabinet and the administration.” Trump himself has repeatedly claimed that he has more respect for women than anyone else. During the 2016 campaign, Trump famously said “I respect women, I love women, I cherish women,” and “I have given women more opportunity than I would say virtually anybody in the construction industry.” This, if true, has not transferred to the presidency.
The other claim Lara Trump made in the Fox Business interview is that Donald Trump is the first to have a woman in charge of his campaign. If she meant that Trump is the first president sworn into office to have a woman run his campaign, this would be true — Trump named Kellyanne Conway campaign manager in August 2016, on the same day he named Steve Bannon the campaign’s chief executive. If she meant he is the first candidate to have a woman running his presidential campaign, this is not true. Al Gore, for instance, won the popular vote but lost the presidency with Donna Brazile running his campaign, and many other candidates, large and small, have had female campaign managers.
Later on Thursday, Lara Trump appeared on Fox News to cover a similar array of topics, including International Women’s Day. Harris Faulkner, the anchor interviewing her, asked Trump about her father-in-law’s “challenges among women … tweeting and that sort of thing.” She did not mention him boasting about sexual assault, or the 14 women who have accused him of sexual assault.
Lara Trump replied that “the reality is women, a lot of times, I don’t think are voicing their support for the president because sometimes they get a lot of flak for it.”