Senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, speaks to journalists in the lobby of the Trump Tower, in New York, N.Y., on Nov. 21, 2016.
Photo by Aude Guerrucci/Pool/EPA

Trump’s latest moves unlikely to help with his gender gap

Kellyanne Conway, one of Donald Trump’s top White House aides, boasted yesterday that the new president has promoted “another woman” to a prominent government post: Gina Haspel, Conway was pleased to note, will be the new deputy director of the CIA – the “first female to be second in command” at the agency.

I can appreciate why Conway is eager to push arguments like these. Donald Trump has surrounded himself with a team of white men, backed by a cabinet in which white men dominate.  The Washington Post noted today that Oval Office photo-ops tend not to work in Team Trump’s favor – because they too often show the lack of diversity on the president’s team.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Trump has assembled a group of business leaders to advise him on a variety of issues, including “women in the workforce.” The two CEOs who’ll make suggestions to the president on this? Doug McMillon and Mark Weinberger, both of whom are men.

Even before the election, women’s issues weren’t exactly a point of strength for Donald Trump. Americans did, after all, hear him bragging about sexually assaulting women and learn about a variety of women who accused of Trump of unwanted sexual advances. He also owned beauty pageants and picked a fight with a winning contestant whom he said weighed too much.

It’s against this backdrop that Kellyanne Conway is eager to let the public know that the new president has promoted “another woman” – as if to suggest this is a very common occurrence – who’ll now serve in an important position.

It’s an understandable, but ultimately flawed, effort.

First, it’s a little late for Trump and his aides to somehow position him as a champion of women’s interests.

Second, Conway is just factually wrong: President Obama appointed Avril Haines to be Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency – and she was the first woman to hold the post.

And third, Conway’s boasts about Gina Haspel gloss over key details about Haspel’s background.
Her experience includes having overseen a “black site” prison in Thailand where terrorism suspects faced harsh interrogation tactics such as waterboarding, according to multiple media reports. […]

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), said they had written a classified letter to Trump expressing their concerns about Haspel, a letter whose contents they urged the president to immediately de-classify. “Her background makes her unsuitable for the position,” the senators wrote in an unclassified letter also sent to the president and dated Thursday.
Look for more on this from Rachel on tonight’s show.


Donald Trump

Trump's latest moves unlikely to help with his gender gap