By Samantha Cooney
June 30, 2017
Samantha Cooney is the content strategy editor at TIME.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, one of four women in President Donald Trump’s cabinet (and the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), defended Trump after his widely-condemned tweets about Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. “The president is a citizen as well,” Chao told USA Today’s Joanne Lipman in an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that Brzezinski was “low I.Q. crazy” and alleged that she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” on New Year’s Eve. (Brzezinski, who responded to his comments in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday morning denies she had a face lift.) Many people lambasted the sexist comments and called on women in the Administration to speak out on the remarks.

Thursday afternoon, Lipman asked Chao, who also served in President George W. Bush’s cabinet, her thoughts on Trump’s tweets.

She responded:

When Lipman pressed, Chao said that she did not agree with Trump’s comments. Lipman asked whether Chao had a relationship with Trump in which she would criticize him on these issues, Chao responded: “What’s most important is where the government is going. For those of us who have agreed to serve in this government, we have a certain point of view as to where America should go,” adding that she’s focused on “important issues” like infrastructure and the economy.

Watch Chao respond above.

Write to Samantha Cooney at


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