From Greta to Gretchen: How Trump has used the office of presidency to attack dozens of women

Danielle Zoellner
·15-min read
The president's rhetoric against women has dated back decades before he entered politics (Getty)
The president's rhetoric against women has dated back decades before he entered politics (Getty)

President Donald Trump has made his political and celebrity persona out of calling rivals nicknames that catch on with his supporters. But some of his comments against prominent figures have faced criticisms for being sexist, racist, and divisive.Â

Men receive just as much criticism as women when it comes to Mr Trump and his nicknames. But his comments against females have often focused on insulting their looks, mentioning bodily functions, calling them “that woman”, and even comparing them to animals. 

These chosen attacks against women all show misogynistic tendencies, Elisa Lees Munoz, the Executive Director of the International Women’s Media Foundation told The Independent. “We know that he does not discriminate on gender with regards to his criticism and his attacks, but we have particularly noticed the way that he attacks female[s], and it is a very gendered attack, which really demonstrates some misogynistic tendencies that we see online and in the streets every day,” she said.Â

Mr Trump’s behaviour started long before he first announced he would run for president in June 2015. But if people thought the behaviour would change while in the Oval Office, they were wrong. 

The Independent has rounded up Mr Trump’s most demeaning comments against women since entering politics. 

Hillary Clinton

It should come as no surprise that one of the top women Mr Trump has criticised is his 2016 Demcoratic presidential candidate opponent, Hillary Clinton. Candidates speaking against each other is not rare, but the type of criticism the president has said against his political rival raised eyebrows.

His criticism first started in April 2015 when he said: "If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?"

The vulgarity continued with Mr Trump saying that Mrs Clinton "got schlonged" by President Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential race. Mr Trump later clarified that statement by claiming he meant she "got beaten badly".

Mr Trump then turned to looks later in the 2016 presidential race, a move he's done with other females he dislikes. "I just don't believe she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look," he said in a September 2016 ABC News interview.

Other terms often used to describe Mrs Clinton include calling her a "nasty woman" and "crooked". Mrs Clinton also became the first woman to face "lock her up" chants from the president's supporters.

Megyn Kelly

Journalist Megyn Kelly experienced the wrath of Mr Trump after she helped moderate a Republican Party presidential debate in August 2015 while working for Fox News.Â

Her first question was aimed at the then-Republican candidate, asking him about all the times he called women "fat pigs", "slobs", and "dogs".

"She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever," Mr Trump said in an interview after the debate, again seemingly turning to vulgarity to discredit the female journalist. 

He also called Ms Kelly a "bimbo" in his criticism, while saying she's "highly overrated".

Lesley Stahl

Veteran journalist Lesley Stahl interviewed, or attempted to interview, Mr Trump for a recently aired 60 Minutes segment that would feature both presidential candidates and their running mates. But Mr Trump left the interview early and launched a series of attacks against Ms Stahl on Twitter, including accusing her of not wearing a mask.

During a campaign rally on Tuesday, Mr Trump claimed there was "fire coming out of her eyes" when she interviewed him for the segment, a play on his previous "blood coming out of her ..." comment against Megyn Kelly.

He accused Ms Stahl of coming into the interview with a "negative attitude" when she pressed him about his rhetoric against mask wearing and holding large rallies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now Ms Stahl has reportedly employed a security team after receiving death threats.

Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has clashed with the president over a number of policy issues. To show his disdain for the top Democrat, Mr Trump often calls Ms Pelosi "crazy" and "a very sick person" in tweets.

But the president's attacks have also veered down the familiar territory of attacking the female politician's looks.

In May 2020, Mr Trump retweeted multiple tweets by former GOP congressional candidate John K Stahl that targeted Ms Pelosi. "Anyone know what's going on with PolyGrip? I've noticed lately that her face seems glossy and she is sporting a poorly marked 2nd set of eyebrows," Mr Stahl tweeted, which the president reshared for his millions of followers.

An additional tweet by Mr Stahl, also reshared by the president, claimed the House speaker wore dentures and drank alcohol "on the job".

Kamala Harris

Once it was revealed that Kamala Harris would be Joe Biden's running mate on the Democrat Party's presidential ticket, the president reached for one of his favourite adjectives to describe females: nasty.

When speaking to reporters in August 2020, Mr Trump said Ms Harris was "extraordinarily nasty" against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. He also said her attacks on Mr Biden during the Democratic primary debates were "very, very nasty".

Mr Trump has accused the senator of being a socialist, but he made the attack more gendered in a recent rally address. "We're not supposed to have a socialist ... We're not going to have a socialist president, especially a female socialist president," he said when targeting Ms Harris.

Another attack thrown at Ms Harris, who is the first Black and Asian vice president candidate on a major party’s ticket, by the president included insinuating she was not born in the United States – a false claim he's wielded against other minority politicians like Barack Obama. Mr Trump spread a false "birther" rumour and questioned if Ms Harris could actually run in the presidential race.

During a 25 October campaign rally, Mr Trump mocked Ms Harris’ interview for 60 Minutes by asking if there was something wrong with her. 

“Did you see [Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s] performance on that show? The only thing almost as bad was Kamala, with the laugh. ‘Haha, that’s so funny. Hahaha.’ She kept laughing. I said, ‘Is there something wrong with her, too?'” Mr Trump said. 

He added at a different rally that Ms Harris does the “uncontrollable laugh” when she’s angry. “You know what she does when she gets angry? She starts laughing. Like she did on 60 Minutes. Uncontrollable laughs. That means she's angry.”Â

Elizabeth Warren

Mr Trump has repeatedly used the slur “Pocahontas” against Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren since the start of the 2016 presidential race.Â

Other insults the president has thrown her way include calling her “goofy”, “nasty”, and a “lowlife”. 

Although the Mr Trump has received backlash for consistently using the racial slur, he’s repeated it many times both in tweets and during campaign rallies. 

Ilhan Omar

Racist remarks against the Minnesota congresswoman have become a staple in the president's rally speeches. He often emphasises "our country" when speaking of the congresswoman, insinuating Ilhan Omar is a foreigner and should go back to her own country.

In July 2019, Mr Trump said that she and three other progressive congresswomen of colour should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came".

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was another member of the "Squad" and a woman of colour who was told to "go back" to where she came from despite being born and raised in the US. The progressive lawmaker receives a lot of criticism from the president for her socialist-leaning policy initiatives, but some of the criticism focuses on her looks and racial background over her actual politics.

During an Ohio rally in August 2020, Mr Trump called AOC a "real beauty", something he often says about women before belittling them.

He also has slammed her education and made claims she's not smart enough for the position she holds. “Did she go to college?,” Mr Trump asked during an October 2020 campaign rally.

AOC has defended herself by reminding the president that she graduated from Boston University before working as a bartender and member of the House of Representatives.

Stormy Daniels

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, gained national attention after the Wall Street Journal revealed the Trump campaign paid her $130,000 to sign a non-disclosure contract ahead of the 2016 presidential election. 

In an October 2018 tweet, Mr Trump called the actress a “horseface” while gloating about a federal judge throwing out her defamation lawsuit. 

Greta Thunberg

The teenage environmental activist was mocked by Mr Trump after she was named Time magazine's 2019 Person of the Year.

"So ridiculous," Mr Trump tweeted. "Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!"

Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz’s wife

Mr Trump targeted Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, and her appearance while first running in the 2016 Republican presidential primary

At the time, the president tweeted: "Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!"

He then shared a picture comparing an image of First Lady Melania Trump to Mr Cruz's wife, writing: "A picture is worth a thousand words."

Savannah Guthrie

NBC journalist Savannah Guthrie was attacked by the president during multiple campaign rallies after she moderated a presidential town hall with him in October 2020.

"I had somebody going totally crazy last night," Mr Trump said one day after the town hall.

He took the criticism one step further at a different campaign rally. "Savannah, it was like her face, the anger, the craziness," he said. "The craziness last night."

Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer gained national attention for her initiatives within her state to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But the Democratic governor also became a household name due to the attacks coming from the president amid the pandemic.

The president has referred to her as "the woman in Michigan", belittling her position, and called her a "half-whit".

"Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband's boating activities," Mr Trump tweeted in October 2020.

The governor, who was the victim of a kidnapping plot by far-right militia group members, said Mr Trump and other Republican's words against her has resulted in an increase in "violent rhetoric" about her online.

Rosie O’Donnell

A feud between comedian Rosie O'Donnell and then-reality star Donald Trump started in 2006 and continued for a decade after. Most of the feud involved the two celebrities hurling insults at each other on Twitter, including Mr Trump calling her a "total loser", "fat", and a "trainwreck".

These insults were mentioned by journalist Megyn Kelly during a 2015 Republican presidential primary debate, as Ms Kelly asked Mr Trump about his rhetoric towards women. "Only Rosie O'Donnell," he said when asked about using phrases like "dogs", "fat pigs", and "slobs" to describe women. He repeated similar sentiments during a 2016 presidential debate against Hillary Clinton.

Mr Trump has gone silent on publicly insulting Ms O'Donnell since taking public office.

Carly Florina

"Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?" Mr Trump said about Carly Florina, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, during the Repubclican primary race.

"Can you imagine that, the face of our next president,"

Trump added. "I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not [supposed to] say bad things but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"

The statements were made in a Rolling Stone magazine article.

Meghan Markle

During a video discussion with feminist author Gloria Steinem in September 2020, Meghan Markle hinted that she would be backing Mr Biden in the upcoming presidential election.

Mr Trump was then asked about her seemingly placing her support behind his challenger.

“I’m not a fan of hers. I wish a lot of luck to Harry, he's going to need it," said the president.

Previously, Mr Trump called Ms Markle “nasty” after it was revealed to him that she previously called him “divisive”.

“I didn’t know that,” he said. “What can I say? I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

Heidi Klum

"Sadly, she's no longer a 10," Mr Trump said about the model in August 2015. He was running in the Republican presidential primary at the time of this statement.

He also made past statements against the model prior to becoming a politician.

Alicia Machado

Mr Trump went after former Miss Universe Alicia Machado in September 2016, calling her "the worst we ever had – the worst, the absolute worst."

"She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem," Mr Trump added in a post-presidential debate interview with Fox News.  

Ms Machado was brought up during the interview because Hillary Clinton mentioned during a debate how the then-presidential candidate previously called the pageant winner "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeper".

Mika Brzezinski

One of Mr Trump's most shocking Twitter attacks was against MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski in June 2017.

"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"

The president did actually meet with Ms Brezezinksi and her husband, Joe Scarborough, when they were at Mar-a-Lago, according to reports. She was not "bleeding badly" or had bandages on her face like the president claimed.

Omarosa Manigault Newman

Omarosa Manigault Newman joined the Trump administration at the start of his presidency. But her sentiments towards the president changed after leaving the White House, and she released a tell-all book against Mr Trump entitled Unhinged.

"When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn't work out," Mr Trump wrote about the former aide prior to her book release. "Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!"

He also used other insults to describe Ms Manigault Newman when speaking to the press, including saying she was "wacky" and "nasty". 

Carmen Yulin Cruz

The president has lashed out multiple times against Puerto Rican lawmaker Carmen Yulín Cruz, who is the mayor of San Juan, throughout his presidency.

Their contentious relationship started after Puerto Rico was hit with Hurricane Maria in 2017. The Trump administration faced backlash for its poor response to Puerto Rico’s crisis, which encouraged the president to target local lawmakers.

"The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump," Mr Trump tweeted at the time.

In April 2019, the president again tweeted against the mayor by calling her “crazed and incompetent”.

“He can huff & puff all he wants but he cannot escape the death of 3,000 on his watch,” Ms Cruz wrote in response. “SHAME ON YOU!”

Maxine Waters

In a June 2018 tweet, Mr Trump called California Representative Maxine Waters “an extraordinarily low IQ person.”

E Jean Carroll 

When addressing writer E Jean Carroll’s sexual assault allegations against Mr Trump, he turned to her looks to defend himself. 

"Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” Mr Trump told The Hill in an interview.Â

“Totally lying. I don’t know anything about her,” he added. 

He now faces a defamation lawsuit from Ms Carroll.

Stacey Abrams 

Mr Trump retweeted a negative and insulting tweet against Democrat Stacey Abrams, who ran in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race, that was first shared by conservative political candidate John Stahl. 

“We just got a look at the official portrait for the self proclaimed Governor of Georgia,” the tweet read. “She fought a tough race, kissed a lot of babies and visited every buffet restaurant in the state. Joe [Biden] will be a racist if he doesn’t pick her.” 

Ms Abrams was on the list of women Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was considering for his running mate in the 2020 presidential election. 

Jessica Leeds

Jessica Leeds, one of the women who’s accused the president of sexual assault, revealed in 2016 that Mr Trump groped her on an airplane in the 1980s. 

Mr Trump, in an effort to deny the claims, returned to focusing on the woman’s looks as his defence. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice," he said. 

Natasha Stoynoff

In 2016, former People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff accused the president of accosting her during a 2005 interview in Florida before his career in politics. 

Mr Trump denied the accusations and said: "Check out her Facebook page, you'll understand."

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