Just what has it been like to be a part of the Trump family, both before and after Donald Trump came down the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015—and to be part of the Trump 2020 campaign?
Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek sat down recently with Lara Trump, who is a senior adviser for the Trump 2020 campaign, to discuss what President Trump meant by not accepting “two tracks,” the Trump administration’s successes, the “endless investigations” against him, media bias, the women’s vote, border security, socialism, and what’s in store for 2020.
They also discussed Lara’s personal work around upgrading standards for dog-breeding facilities, aiming to ultimately vanquish puppy mills.
Jan Jekielek: The Mueller investigation is over. There was no collusion. The attorney general found there was no obstruction. Yet all sorts of investigations continue and, recently, the president actually walked out from a meeting on infrastructure after having been accused of a cover-up. What do you make of all this?
Lara Trump: I think it’s pretty clear to most people what’s going on here. Sadly, our country was put through the Mueller investigation for a little over two years. It was really an awful thing for our country.
We all knew, at the campaign and in our family, that there was no collusion with Russia. The idea of it actually was so crazy, when we all first heard about it and that that was even something that people were considering.
It feels very good to have that done and behind us, and for the report to show—as we all knew—there was no collusion. But sadly, I think, when you look at the Democrats, and you look at what they are running on and their platform in many cases, I think they know they can’t beat this president in the 2020 election. So what are their options? They’re still upset that he won. They’re still upset that Hillary Clinton didn’t win in 2016.
So the options are: investigate him, say that you’re going to impeach him, try to hurt all the people around him in an effort to distract him, and keep him from doing more things that are very positive for this country. Look at what this president has been able to do, despite the fact that there was a two-year investigation going on about him and his campaign, despite the fact that every single day in Washington, there are obstructionists, people that will do anything they can to go in the opposite direction of this president, sadly, working against the American people—and he’s accomplished so much. We have a booming economy. We have the lowest unemployment in the history of this country. We have manufacturing jobs by the hundreds of thousands that have now come back to the United States, as promised by this president, and our former president said he would never be able to do that.
So when I look at it as an American citizen—and I think when so many people look at what has happened and the reason that these investigations, which are so nonsensical, such a waste of time and money, are still going on—I think it’s because the Democrats have nothing else to run on. And how else are they going to defeat this president than to try and take him down … in some way that they think they’re going to find, I don’t know what they think they’re going to find continuing to investigate, but they’re hopeful that there’s something in his past that they can use to take him down.
It’s not going to work. And I think the American people are seeing through it, and I think they’re sick and tired, quite frankly, of all this nonsense. They’re ready to move on and for all of the people that we send to Washington—in Congress, and in our government—to work together for the American people.
Mr. Jekielek: One term that I’ve heard, I think Steve Moore actually told me this, is “death by a thousand cuts.” Is that the strategy?
Ms. Trump: I guess that’s part of their strategy. I think they [think that] if they continue to say negative things about this president and try to portray our family in a negative light and the people that are close to him negatively, then maybe the American people at some point … are going to buy into the idea that he’s a bad guy, that we’re awful people, and that he’s done something wrong. Sadly for them, I think the American people are more interested in things that impact their everyday lives. They’re more interested in the fact that they have a job now, when maybe they didn’t have a job before, or full-time instead of a part-time job, or higher-paying job at that, that they saved money on their tax returns this year. Those are the things, I think, that people are paying attention to.
I think many people have tuned out the nonsense, and I think you see it when you look at the ratings of many of the news outlets out there. And I use the term “news outlets” very loosely for some of them, but there is one, in particular, that has a much higher rating—almost double the rating of the others. And it’s because I think that’s what people want to hear. They want to hear about the things that are going to affect them every day. They don’t want to hear about the nonsense.
Mr. Jekielek: So, the president has called this a hoax, he’s called it a witch hunt, and he’s called it—and you were talking about this— harassment of himself and the family. He said that Don Jr. has basically been put through hell through this process. We had an article recently about how a number of people have just been dragged through the mud through the Mueller investigation—people who were completely innocent of anything. How is this all playing out for your family?
Ms. Trump: Well, nothing prepares you for this. Certainly, nothing will prepare you ever—I don’t think—for being part of the First Family. Especially for me: I came from a very normal background. I was raised in North Carolina in a middle-class family. I never dreamed of living in New York [and] certainly never dreamed I would be part of a family like this.
But it’s very challenging, it’s hard when you know the truth, when you know that people are good, and you know that they’ve done nothing wrong, and yet there’s a narrative out there that continues to portray them in a different way. Whether you’re talking about my father-in-law—the president—or you’re talking about Don, my brother-in-law, or my husband, or even me, it’s happened to all of us. And it’s very upsetting when you know someone’s heart, and you know they’re good, and you know they’re just out there trying to do the best thing possible—especially when it comes to the president. He didn’t need to do this job. His life is a lot harder now because he’s our president. Everyone liked Donald Trump before he decided to run as a Republican, and now, you see the difference.
So it is challenging, but I think at the end of the day, we all know we’re doing this for the right reason. We all know that the president is fighting for the American people. And I always tell him, and I say to people all the time, I think you will go down in history as one of the greatest presidents we’ve ever had. He’s honest and maybe sometimes to a fault, but sometimes you need to hear the truth, and, sometimes, it’s not great. And, sometimes, you need somebody to stand up and say, we can do better, and we need to start fighting for ourselves. And that’s what this president has done. So they can try all they want to harass all of us, and malign all of us, and write negative stories about us all day long.
But we sleep well at night because we know we’re good people, and we know we’re doing the right thing.
Mr. Jekielek: So what’s it like being Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law? I mean maybe before the presidential run? And then have things changed at all?
Ms. Trump: Well, as I mentioned, I did not grow up in New York City and this sort of higher society town. I grew up in North Carolina, going to public schools my whole life, and come from a very normal background. It’s always intimidating, I think, to meet who might be your future in-laws. Certainly, when their last name is Trump, it’s a lot scarier. I was very nervous before meeting my then-boyfriend Eric’s dad and mom, and I was so pleasantly surprised, immediately, at how my father-in-law interacted with me and the way he made me feel.
Because anyone who’s been around Donald Trump knows that he’s a great guy, but he’s so much more of a normal guy than anyone in his place should really ever be. I mean, he enjoys the simple things in life, and one of the things that we did was we shared an ice cream together at the U.S. Open, and he chatted with me and wanted to know about me, and I felt very relaxed, pretty quickly after meeting him. So I knew that that meant something, because you don’t always feel that with people.
Eric and I got married five years ago, and I officially became part of this family, and they were always happy to welcome me with open arms—every member of his family. And I do say that they all are down-to-earth people. I can say that because I come from a background where I can say that. I don’t know that I would’ve fit in with a family that was any different.
Now, certainly, being his daughter-in-law and the fact that he’s in the White House as our president, it makes me so proud to know that this man that I have always known is a great father, is obviously the business leader and mogul that we’ve always known in this country, is using everything that he’s learned throughout his career to benefit the American people.
I couldn’t be prouder to work as part of his campaign team. I did it in 2016 by default, in some crazy twists of fate. He asked me to stay on board and I’m honored to do it, and I’m honored to call him my father-in-law. It’s a great thing.
Mr. Jekielek: The man seems to never sleep, at least to some of us. Does he get a chance to spend any time with your kids, or with your child?
Ms. Trump: Not as much time as he’d like. It was a lot easier when he was here in New York, but obviously being that he’s in Washington, D.C., and we don’t live down there, he certainly doesn’t get to see our son as much as he’d like. But we do all get together for all the holidays, oftentimes down at Mar-a-Lago, and it’s very relaxed. The first thing he always asks me when I see him is how our son is doing, “How’s Luke? That kid is the best,” and he loves him so much, and, “Show me some new pictures.” He’s like any grandparent and wants to know the things he’s up to and what he’s doing now. It is so nice when we do have time to get together, because all of our lives seem to have gotten even crazier than they were before, across the board, with our family.
Mr. Jekielek: Is there something that you were surprised to learn, or maybe the American people would be surprised to learn, about him that isn’t out in the open?
Ms. Trump: Well, I just wish people knew the Donald Trump that we all know, and it’s not the hardened guy that everybody tries to make him out to be on television. He loves his family. He’s one of the greatest storytellers and joke tellers I’ve ever met. Dinners with our family are pretty funny because he’s constantly just keeping us all in stitches laughing. It’s actually incredible to see that he hasn’t changed, that hasn’t changed about him.
And I’m pleasantly surprised to know that, because, I think for some people, you would go to Washington, and you would be under the constant scrutiny and attacks like he is every day, and perhaps that would change. It’s so nice that it hasn’t with him. He is still the same funny guy that we’ve always known. And I just wish people knew how much he cared, and cared not just about our family, but he’s always cared about this country, and about this country being the best, and doing the right thing for everyone in this country.
He talked about it for many years before he ran for president. When I hear stories in the media about him doing anything other than what is right for the people of this country and doing what he knows is going to help people, it’s very frustrating, because I know his heart and I know that’s not true. I just wish people got to see that side of him more.
Mr. Jekielek: The president, according to some people I’ve spoken with—HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Lynne Patton, who also works at HUD these days—have talked about how much he’s sacrificed to be able to actually do this. Have you yourself found that you’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices to be in your role as a campaign person, and a very prominent campaign person?
Ms. Trump: I think it sort of all happens in such a way that you maybe don’t realize it, but certainly, our lives are very different now. We all have Secret Service—these are amazing people that literally stop their lives to work and make sure that you’re safe every day. But that’s been a change, a big change in our lives, for all of us. We are obviously living in a city … New York City can feel challenging at times, if I’m being fully truthful. Oftentimes, I will walk into a restaurant or a workout class, or whatever it might be, and I don’t know who in there likes us, who doesn’t like us, who has bought into the narrative that we’re awful people, that we’re trying to scam the country or get rich off of the presidency, or whatever theory they’ve put out there about all of us.
I try to ignore it, but it’s certainly always in the back of my mind. I don’t want to say that we’ve sacrificed, because it’s such an honor to be in a role where I can talk to the president of the United States. I get to work for his campaign. I get to go out there and talk about the great things he’s doing for this country, but it’s certainly different, and it’s certainly been a huge change in a very short amount of time.
It’ll be interesting and, I think, welcomed at the end—hopefully, six-plus years from now—when this is over, to maybe get back to some more normalcy. But you know, if you call it a sacrifice, I guess some people could look at it like that, but I really see it as an honor.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s jump back to talking about the media. You know, in one recent example, the president said he was very calm leaving this meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer. In the media, we were told he was raging and so forth. Very different stories.
Another thing I came across recently … Michael Avenatti was charged with defrauding Stormy Daniels—all sorts of issues with him. I was looking at a clip of Avenatti being described as the “savior of the country” by some media pundits. We’re seeing this kind of stuff. We’ve even had an op-ed recently in which one of our columnists wrote that, basically, many journalists feel empowered to tell stories that aren’t entirely truthful, because they fit the particular narrative they believe in.
Can you speak to all of this?
Ms. Trump: Well, I worked in the media for a number of years. I was a producer with the television show “Inside Edition.” And I remember understanding, to a degree, that that sort of thing happened—that there was manipulation of stories to fit a certain narrative. And it was very innocent at “Inside Edition.” I mean, these were not like crazy hard-hitting news stories, but nonetheless, I knew that it happened.
It wasn’t until I was on the other side of that, that I really realized what was going on there. It’s sad when you see it, but it’s even worse to think that these are the people that we are trusting to disseminate information across our country, and they have a responsibility to tell the truth to the public. And what they are doing by manipulating things to fit their narrative, and oftentimes that narrative is very anti-Trump and seemingly anti-American in some cases. It’s very odd. It’s so detrimental to this country. I mean, the trust in the media is at an all-time low right now. I don’t think it’s ever been worse in this country. And there’s a reason for that.
People are starting to see, “Well, wait a minute, I was at that rally and that’s not how the president said that. That’s not what he meant whenever he did that.” So it’s happened for a lot of people, and then you look at things like the #WalkAway movement [and] Brandon Straka, who has done incredible things. That was something that he first noticed, and he said, “Wait a minute, there’s something that’s off here.”
I think there are a lot of Americans that are waking up and realizing that the media is not always telling you the truth, but it’s shameful that people would consider doing that. It’s shameful that someone would call themselves a journalist and then turn around and manipulate something to fit their narrative, knowing full well that that was not the way it was meant to be, that that was not the intention of a statement. And it’s very frustrating when you know the truth when it happens to you, when it happens to someone close to you.
But as a whole for our country, I think it’s so bad, and I give the president a lot of credit for calling it out, because a lot of people wouldn’t. A lot of people would just try to play along with their game and try to fit into what they wanted, but not this president. He said, “Enough is enough. You guys are doing something wrong.” And that’s why he calls it “fake news.” There’s something to that.
It’s sad to see, but I hope that at a certain point, the public in this country demands better from our media and from our journalists. And I’m not sure how that will happen, but I think it’s very necessary because it’s really scary the direction that we’re headed right now.
Mr. Jekielek: So you actually called it, moments ago, anti-American. Can you expand on that a little bit?
Ms. Trump: Well, when you look at things like, for example, the way that what has happened at our southern border—the immigration problem that we have, the illegal immigration problem in this country—is presented in the mainstream media. Barack Obama, under his administration, started the family separations, and all of a sudden, it became “Donald Trump is locking kids in cages,” which, first of all, is not the case. That’s a ridiculous thing to say. This was all started under the Obama administration, but nobody cared about it then.
Then, you have the media portraying the president negatively, portraying people coming across our southern border as people that we should be helping: “Let’s let them into our country.” Unfortunately, we cannot just continue to have an open border at our southern border because it doesn’t work. We are poised to have over a million people come into this country right now. So guess what that means? It disproportionately impacts people like the African-American communities, Hispanic communities, people in low-income communities. And, unfortunately, when you buy into the media narrative and you say, “Well, let’s let all these people in,” that’s going to hurt your fellow Americans. That is going to hurt people in this country, and we have to take care of people in our country first. And then if we can help other people, we absolutely should.
The president has always had that vision and operated under that assumption. But, unfortunately, when you have the media twisting things around and making things seem like something that they’re not, it’s very detrimental, and people don’t get the truth, and they don’t get the full picture. So I do think you can call that anti-American, because you’re hurting your fellow Americans at the end of the day, when you are automatically going to believe that and subscribe to what they want you to believe.
Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned—something just struck me—you mentioned a number of the things that the administration has accomplished, such as record employment or record low unemployment, and a number of other things. How much is this, in your view, something where there’s in the headlines, you just constantly see attack, problem, this is wrong, that’s wrong, investigation, cover-up, and you don’t get to see any of those things?
Ms. Trump: Well, you never get to see any of those things, sadly. That’s why I almost feel like a broken record sometimes repeating it, but I think it’s necessary to do because, sadly, the majority of our media is obsessed with the scandalous, salacious nonsense that’s out there, and trying to further a narrative that this president is a bad guy, or that he’s done something wrong, or that we should impeach him, which all is just complete garbage. And you don’t hear about the great things that he’s doing in this country every single day. You don’t hear about the way that he is positively impacting people’s lives, and the new ways that this administration has tackled problems that have never been tackled before that had been totally ignored.
Look at the fact that this president has now had two meetings with Kim Jong Un of North Korea; no president has ever done something like that. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula could happen, and it could happen under this president. But you know he’ll never get credit for it because the media always takes whatever he does and spins it around. But you should hear about more of the good things that are out there. You should hear about more of the things that impact your everyday life.
Here at the campaign, we said, “Nobody’s talking about this. We’ll talk about it.” So we started actually what we call the “real news.” I do a weekly update, where I let people know about the great things that the administration has done in that week, and it’s things that you probably would never hear about otherwise, because we feel like it’s really important and it’s something that people want to hear about. So it’s sad to see, but not that surprising.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ll certainly hear about them on this program and in The Epoch Times, because we like to take a fair and balanced approach to these questions. So tell me a little more about what you do with the campaign. I know that you have the show that you’re doing for the campaign, but what else are you involved in now?
Ms. Trump: I feel like I’m involved in everything, in a way. So I remained at the campaign in 2017, after my father-in-law was inaugurated. We never really shut the campaign down, which is unusual and I don’t think has actually ever happened before, but the president felt very strongly that the movement that had started behind him, he wanted to continue; he wanted people to still feel like the campaign was here and have a place to go.
So I remained here with a very small group of people at the time. We’ve done everything that maybe we didn’t know we should have done in the previous campaign because we were all very green. None of us had ever been involved in politics. We feel very streamlined now. I’m a senior adviser to the campaign, so anything from dealing with the finances to our television show we do. I obviously do a lot of media appearances and speaking engagements.
We have recently done a lot of hiring at the campaign. We’re gearing up for 2020. We’re hiring state directors all around the country and really getting our teams in place. In terms of money, we have done some really epic fundraising. The first quarter of this year, we raised $30 million. Half of that, by the way, donated by women, which we’re very proud of. So, I mean, I really have a bit of a hand in everything. I work day-to-day with Brad Parscale, our campaign manager, with Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the RNC, and we’re firing on all cylinders. So whatever the day calls for, I’m sort of ready to do it. And we tackle it every day as it comes.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s talk about women, actually. And this is especially … I think suburban women—that was a demographic that President Trump had a challenge with, in 2016. How are you addressing speaking with women? It’s very interesting to hear that half of the donors are women.
Ms. Trump: Well, I think there was always an assumption that Donald Trump wasn’t going to have women vote for him. And I knew that wasn’t right in 2016. Because I knew so many women, who would just randomly come up to me and say, “I love Donald Trump. I want him to be our president.”
So, in 2016, I made a concerted effort to get a group of women together, and we traveled all across this country. Lynne Patton, who you just mentioned, was one of them; Katrina Pierson, who remains with the campaign now; Diamond and Silk, who everyone knows; and one who we will not mention. We all traveled this country, and the turnout that we saw, was that half—if not more than half of the people that would come to the many rallies that we did—were women, and so I said, “Something is going on here. Somebody is missing something.” And you look at these fundraising numbers that we have now. By the way, in 2016, only about a quarter of our donations came from women. Now, we’re at half of our donations coming from women.
I think women out there are made to feel like if you are not voting alongside the Democratic Party, that there’s something wrong; if you are supporting Donald Trump, you can’t talk about it. And really, it’s a shame. It’s really sad to see that. But when I look at these fundraising numbers, and I just … feel, when I’m traveling through an airport, or I go to speak somewhere, or I go home to North Carolina, the number of women that come up to me and have really positive things to say about our president would shock all these people that say that Donald Trump is going to lose with women, that he can’t win. So I have always said that “the women problem” is not a real problem.
And I do think it’s important for us at the campaign to get out there and remind people—men and women alike—about what this president has done for them over the past now-2 1/2 years, and as we approach the election, it will be four years. Because oftentimes, you miss it, or you forget about it, or you get used to making that little bit more money or whatever it might be.
Whether it’s men or women, I think we just need to make sure that we’re reinforcing what this president has done, what he can do in the future for this country. I’ve always said that women will vote for Donald Trump in much bigger numbers than the pollsters will ever report, because they’re happy to go into a voting booth and vote for Donald Trump and never tell a soul. They’re not going to tell that pollster on the way out that they voted for him.
Mr. Jekielek: The fundraising numbers, that’s fascinating to me. I mean that’s a big shift. Is there something specific, you think, that accounts for that?
Ms. Trump: I think there probably were a lot of women in 2016 who weren’t sure they liked Donald Trump. The Democrats in the media did everything they could to make him seem like a horrible guy, that anyone would be crazy to vote for him. So maybe some of them bought into that idea, and maybe they voted for him, but they didn’t want to donate to him. I’m not sure.
But I think results speak louder than words, than empty words from talking heads on TV, quite frankly. When you see that things are changing in this country and they’re getting better for you or better for people you know, that means something. I think there are a lot of women out there that are sick and tired of the nonsense. They’re sick and tired of hearing that if you’re a woman, you should be voting Democrat. And they’re sick and tired of people telling them how they should think and how they should feel.
The question that I got oftentimes in 2016 was about the fact that Hillary Clinton was a woman, and wouldn’t I want a woman to be president? Well, of course, I would, but I want the right person to be president. I want the best candidate out there to run this country—man or woman. So I just think a lot of women are tired of all of the identity politics and all the pandering that you constantly see out there; maybe they’re standing up and they’re saying, you know what, not only are we going to vote for him, we’re also donating to him, because we really want him back in office.
Mr. Jekielek: Now that we’re talking about the campaign, I remember that at the State of the Union, the president talked about how America will never be a socialist country. I know this is something you’re very passionate about. It actually has a big part to do with why The Epoch Times was founded; it’s very important to us, as well. How big do you think this will be an issue for 2020?
Ms. Trump: Well, I think you’re seeing it play out already. I think when you look at the Democrat field, the candidates that have now come forward, it feels like there are about a hundred of them—I think there are 23. There are so many of them that are running on an almost socialist or fully socialist platform; that’s terrifying to me as an American citizen. This country was founded on free market, free economy, capitalism. That’s why we are the biggest economy in the world. That’s why we have always been the strong country that we are, and that’s why people flock to this country every single day.
You don’t have to look very far to see why socialism doesn’t work and why it would be detrimental to our country. You look at Venezuela as the most recent place where they tried to implement socialism. Obviously, it has been an epic failure. People are starving to death in Venezuela. They want to get out … they can’t. They’re eating dog and cat food to survive. Ninety percent of the population lives below the poverty line there. It’s really scary stuff, and this country was founded on less government, not more government.
When you look at socialism and what it means, it’s more government across the board. It’s almost government running everything in your life. And so for people out there that don’t fully understand it, I always encourage them to do some research, look at the countries that use socialism: the USSR, Cuba, China. These are not countries we want to mimic in the United States of America.
But you see so many candidates out there proposing all this free stuff, free education, free health care to people, and it’s very tempting when you don’t have the facts and you don’t understand the implications of that long term for this country. So I think this election, of any election, is going to be about a free country like we have now and like we have always had, or a socialist, almost communist-run, country, like so many of these candidates are frighteningly trying to propose. I think that as scary as that is, I think it’s going to be a very clear way to look at things. And I think people either want to continue in the direction that we’ve always gone in this country, or maybe they’re bamboozled a little bit by all the bells and whistles on the other side.
But at the end of the day, I don’t think Americans can get behind socialism. I don’t think they want a country run with full government control of everything we do: where people tell you when you can have a medical procedure, where you have to go, when you can get certain food. It’s really crazy that we are at this place, but I think the American people are going to stand up, and I think they’re going to vote against socialism.
Mr. Jekielek: And what do you make of the fact that in this millennial demographic, especially, there seems to be this interest or even support, at least on paper?
Ms. Trump: Well, apparently, it’s very cool. You have people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic Party, who’s become sort of the face of the Democrats, who were always alongside Bernie Sanders, who is sort of like the grandfather of socialism in this country. He’s what we all associate with [socialism]. That’s always what I assume, I just assume it’s a lack of education. It’s a lack of experience in the world, but it is frightening to see the number of millennials—Generation Z, the younger people in this country—who will be voting possibly in the next election, and the way that I feel they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes in a way by these really cool talkers, and that some of these ideas sound really nice, but ultimately cannot be paid for by the United States.
Mr. Jekielek: Is talking about this stuff, educating about it, exposing it, and explaining a part of this strategy for 2020?
Ms. Trump: It absolutely is for us, I think in so many cases, because it is not out there in the way that I wish it was out there. Whether you’re talking about socialism or whether you’re talking about the positive things this president has done for this country, I think it is incumbent upon us, as the campaign, as Republicans, to make sure that we get the word out. There are great people out there who are allies of ours, like Turning Point USA—Charlie Kirk and his group who go around to college campuses, where, sadly, they have become bastions of liberal ideology. And even professors now, some of the stories I hear from college students is terrifying that their professors are encouraging them to have a liberal mindset and not encouraging freedom of thought and exchange of ideas anymore. It’s just, “Here’s the way it is, and this is how you should think of things.”
But there are great people out there who are going around, whether it’s on college campuses, or Candace Owens of Blexit, who is doing incredible work within the black community to make sure people understand that it’s OK to leave the party of the Democrats. It’s OK to become a Republican. It’s OK to support this president because he supports you, and everything you’ve heard out there is not true. So we do have a lot ahead of us—a long road to go—but we have some great allies out there and we’re very lucky. I do think that’s part of the strategy. It’s about just getting the word out and reminding people about how their life has changed over the past couple of years.
Mr. Jekielek: So what are, in your mind, the big issues for 2020 that you’ll be focusing on?
Ms. Trump: Well, I hope it won’t be the Mueller report, because we’re all so done with that. But if the Democrats have their way, that’s what it’ll be on.
I think so much of it is going to be about the economy. The economy in this country cannot be ignored. The fact that people are back to work and making more money cannot be ignored. And I think overall, it’s asking yourself—in many ways, it’s very Reaganesque—is your life better now than it was before Donald Trump took office? And I think for the majority of people in this country, it’s so much better. And we have to make sure that they ask themselves that question. Obviously, immigration and health care, I think, are two big things that the people want to see happen.
Sadly, if the Democrats stopped playing politics all the time and stopped playing games, and instead wanted to do something positive and work together with our president … we could have had those things done already. And infrastructure as the most recent example. But I think they are all things that impact people’s lives, that will impact the future of this country. And I certainly think those are things that are going to be real key factors in 2020.
Mr. Jekielek: So speaking of which, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders recently talked about how there can’t be “two tracks,” and that was after the president actually stepped out of this meeting on infrastructure. What was his reasoning behind that?
Ms. Trump: Well, let’s look at the fact that, like an hour before Nancy [Pelosi] and Chuck [Schumer] were at the White House, they had a meeting about impeaching him. How can you, in good conscience, work with people who want what’s worst for you, who want your downfall, who want you out of office? It doesn’t work.
And the president said that, I think, when he came out. He was very clear that [he] did not sit down with them because they’re still playing games. There’s still so much that they want to do that’s negative for this country [and] to him personally. You can’t in good faith negotiate with people and sit down with people and get things done when you have that sort of animosity there, when you know that they just want what’s worse for you. And it sadly seems like they want what’s worse for the country because if they were serious about making anything happen, we could have done it a long time ago.
I think he was right to do that. I mean, they need to shut down these nonsensical, costly investigations that no one in this country cares about. We’re all done. We all want to move on. We want to get down to work in this country, and then, I think there’s an opportunity possibly to move forward. But when you’re playing games, when you’re not there, and you’re really not going to be taken seriously if you just had a meeting with your Democratic colleagues about how to impeach the president. I give him a lot of credit for walking out on that one. I wouldn’t have stayed for that one, either.
Mr. Jekielek: Lara, I actually wanted to ask you … let’s switch gears a little bit because I know there’s an issue that you’re very passionate about, which is getting rid of puppy mills. This is something that I’ve seen you talk about a number of times. I just wanted to find out how that effort is going. are you having some success with this?
Ms. Trump: Yeah, well, I will say that we are. The USDA [Department of Agriculture] did something really incredible, which is, for the first time in over 30 years, it proposed updating some of the standards that the dog-breeding facilities in this country are beholden to. They said, “Let’s make life a little bit better for these dogs.”
The hope is that we never have puppy mills anymore. Puppy mills really are a way to describe a dog-breeding facility that is very subpar, that the dogs are never let out of their cages, that they’re bred out of control, that there’s a lot of disease, a lot of issues. And, sadly, those dogs end up in pet stores oftentimes, they become your family pet, and then, you get a vet bill for $8,000 because they have these inherent genetic issues. So we hope to end that because it’s not right for the consumers in this country who think they’re getting a great family dog. It’s not right for the dogs.
So the USDA proposed changing some of those rules very recently, and I think the comment period was extended a week. I think it’s closing very soon, and I’m happy to report that about 75 percent of the comments were all very supportive of the rule. So it looks like it will ultimately get passed. But it’s a challenge … you do have people selling dogs online. That’s a whole other space that hasn’t been tackled yet. But there are good breeders out there, and they shouldn’t be punished, and they shouldn’t have the moniker of puppy mill when they’re doing things the right way. So we’re hopeful that by raising these standards and making life a little better for these dogs, that the bad ones go away and the good ones remain, and we can all do the right thing for the dogs in the meantime.
We are having some success, but it’s always a challenging road in Washington, D.C., dealing with anything. And I do this as a private citizen. I’m not a lobbyist; this is not part of what I do. So, on my spare time, I really work hard on that and so many other things. You know there was a program that the VA started, Pets for Vets, so it was pairing shelter dogs with returning veterans, to help assist them with PTSD. The dogs ultimately needed a home; the veterans needed some support. It’s a great fit, a win for everybody. So there are a lot of avenues that we’re going down for animals, and trying to do the right thing.
Mr. Jekielek: That sounds like a wonderful initiative. So, do you have any final words? Anything important that we haven’t talked about yet?
Ms. Trump: I think the American people really should take the time to look at the results that this president has delivered for this country, as we move towards an election season; I guess we’re fully underway now. I would just encourage people to take a minute and check in with themselves and check in with their lives and ask yourself: Is life a little bit better now for me? Do I have a brighter outlook for my child down the line? Did I find a better job, or am I getting more money every day or every couple of weeks in my paycheck? And if those things are the case, you can thank Donald Trump. You can thank his administration, because he has cut regulations, and he’s breaking down these trade barriers that we’ve had for decades in this country, and he’s doing the right things.
Whether you’re talking about moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, like so many presidents before him promised, or sitting down with Kim Jong Un of North Korea to possibly denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, he’s fighting for the American people every day. He’s fighting to do the right thing. And I wish more people saw that, and I wish he got more credit for it. But I think people feel it. And at the end of the day, as someone who works with his campaign and as a family member, that’s the most important thing to me.
And it never gets old, by the way, when people come up to me and say, “Please tell your father-in-law to keep fighting, tell the president we love him.” It means so much to all of us. And you’d be surprised, even here in New York, I hear it very often. So I would just encourage people to check in with themselves and reflect on their lives. And just remember that this is a guy that has a much tougher life now because he’s our president, but he’s fighting for all of us every day.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.