Trump Administration Officials, Members of Congress Visit Conservative Student Conference

Cabinet members Betsy DeVos, Nikki Haley, Jeff Sessions were among the speakers at the National High School Leadership Conference of Turning Point USA.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was among three Trump administration cabinet members who spoke to the Turning Point USA conference. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)
July 30, 2018

Several current and former members of President Donald Trump’s administration spoke at Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership Summit last week on the George Washington University Foggy Bottom Campus, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The national conference, an annual event held by the conservative nonprofit organization Turning Point USA, which rented space at GW venues for the event, featured the three Trump administration cabinet members as well as  Anthony Scaramucci, his former communications director, and several members of Mr. Trump’s communications staff.

The fourth annual conference also featured entrepreneur Mark Cuban, presidential adviser Corey Lewandowski and several members of Congress, including, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Ms. DeVos participated in the conference Wednesday evening. She was introduced by Kyle Kashuv, a student survivor of the mass shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

The secretary of the Department of Education discussed in broad terms her agency’s focus on school choice, saying, “All students deserve learning environments that are agile and exciting.” She also plugged the Trump administration’s school safety commission, telling the audience “school safety is not a partisan issue.”

On Monday evening, Ms. Haley used a good portion of her remarks to defend the Trump administration’s decision in June to withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council, which she called “a joke.” She said the administration believed the council had failed to live up to its mission of promoting and protecting human rights around the world and instead was protecting what she called “blatant human rights violators.”

She named current members of the council—China, Venezuela, Cuba and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as past member Russia—as countries that “seek membership on the council in order to save themselves from criticism” and “get away with it.”

Mr. Sessions spoke to the high school students Tuesday morning at Lisner Auditorium, at one point briefly joining the audience in the controversial chant “lock her up,” a holdover from Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He also suggested in his remarks that universities have placed too much emphasis on political correctness to the detriment of free speech.

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