Trump slams Clinton during surprise visit at White House women's event
Posted January 16, 2018 11:43 a.m. EST
Updated January 16, 2018 3:46 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump took the opportunity Tuesday to slam Hillary Clinton during a surprise visit at gathering dubbed a "conversation with Women of America."
Trump used to the event to take aim at Clinton, the first woman to win a major party presidential nomination. Trump joked about how he beat Clinton in Arkansas, a state where she served as first lady.
"Arkansas, great state," Trump said, after noting a woman attending from the state. "How did I win Arkansas by so much when she came from Arkansas?"
The gathering featured more than a dozen top White House officials, discussing the state of American women with over 200 invited guests.
Trump also claimed that if Clinton had won in November, the stock market -- which has boomed under the Republican President -- would have gone down by 50%.
"Had the other side gotten in, the market would have gone down 50% from where it was," Trump said. "Fifty percent from where it was. Remember that. It was stagnant and it was going down."
Trump did not state how he came to that figure.
The President also touted the robust US economy and discussed the current state of immigration reform talks, blaming Democrats for the lack of a deal.
"We are working on immigration and immigration reform," Trump said. "Hopefully at some point we will be able to solve that problem. If the Democrats really wanted to, they could, but they really sometimes don't want to. We are working on it and we will get it done one way or the other I hope."
The female-focused event comes amid a nationwide focus on sexual harassment and assault against women dubbed the #MeToo movement. The campaign was spurred by extensive alleged abuse by Harvey Weinstein and a cascade of other powerful men.
Though the movement has affected the sports, entertainment and political worlds, it has largely spared the White House, even though at least 15 women have come forward with a wide range of accusations against Trump, ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior around women. Trump was also recorded in 2005 describing sexually assaulting women on the "Access Hollywood" videotape.
Trump has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. At the event, he did not comment on the movement which was not a focus of the day-long event.
Senior White House officials, such as Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter and senior adviser, communications director Hope Hicks, press secretary Sarah Sanders and counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, attended the meeting, along with Cabinet members Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
The event included a three-part panel where, according to White House spokeswoman Lindsey Walters, "women from various backgrounds and experiences ... will speak with high-level women within the Trump administration."
Melania Trump is also not expected to attend, according to the East Wing communications office. Trump, according to a White House official, was not expected to attend the event, but decided to drop by.
"When I heard, I ran across the street," Trump said. "Now I am going to run back to the Oval Office."
The women, Walters added, spoke with White House officials about "what has been accomplished to date to advance women at home, and in the workplace."
"As part of an ongoing conversation this administration has been having with American women there will be a focus on the economy, health care and national security during the President's first year in office," Walters said.
More than 200 women attended, including Anita McBride, the former chief of staff for first lady Laura Bush; Heather Higgins, the CEO of Independent Women's Voice, and Judy Van Rest, the executive vice president of the International Republican Institute.