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Will Trump Dismantle Women's Programs Hillary Clinton Set Up?

Will Trump Dismantle Women's Programs Hillary Clinton Set Up?

Trump Asks State Department to Disclose All Programs Promoting Gender Equality

Officials in the State Department are reportedly "freaked out" by a request from the incoming administration.

The transition team for president-elect Donald J. Trump reportedly sent a one-page memo to State Department officials asking the office to disclose all "existing programs and activities to promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women's participation in economic and political spheres, [and] entrepreneurship."

This correspondence triggered fears in the State Department, as The New York Times reports, that the incoming administration would rollback existing programs on women's rights set up under Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State.

The memo followed a similar request made to the Energy Department, a 74-point questionnaire asking for "the names of all employees and contractors who have attended climate change policy conferences, as well as emails and documents associated with the conferences," as the Times previously reported. The office turned him down, directing him to information already made publicly available.

Trump, a noted climate change skeptic, has claimed that global warming is a myth invented by China to harm U.S. industry. Many feared that the request signaled that the the billionaire, who recently nominated former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State, would gut federal programs to promote clean energy.

The difference between these two incidents is that Trump's team did not ask for information about who holds positions on gender equality, just the names of the positions themselves.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, attempted to assuage fears that the memo signaled Trump would gut federal programs promoting women's empowerment. Kirby claimed during a State briefing on Thursday that "it is normal, it is usual, it is typical, it is expected" for incoming presidents to request such information from previous administrations.

"When a new captain comes aboard a ship, you tell him who's on board and what jobs they have and how the ship operates," Kirby told reporters. "That's the way it works."

Kirby added that the State Department would work with Trump to provide these details.

"To the degree that there is interest in the way that we have approached pursuing gender equality and human rights around the world by the transition team," he continued, "we will certainly provide them the context, the information that is appropriate for them to make their own decisions going forward."

The transition effort further clarified its intent in a statement sent to press.

"President-elect Trump will ensure the rights of women across the world are valued and protected," the Trump team stated. "To help fulfill this promise, the transition team inquired about existing programs at the State department that helps foster gender equality, ends gender-based violence, and promotes economic and political participation -- finding ways to improve them, along with hundreds of other requests."

Despite the attempt to calm anxiety about the memo, a State Department employee told the Los Angeles Times that the request triggered internal panic.

"People are freaked out," the source said.

The programs that could be at risk under a Trump administration include the Office of Global Women's Issues, a Clinton passion project created in 2009. During her confirmation as Secretary of State, she claimed that gender issues are "central to our foreign policy."

Although Trump referred to himself as "the best for women" during the 2016 presidential election, it's unclear how his department -- soon to be under Tillerson's purview if he's confirmed by the Senate -- will follow in her footsteps. Given his alleged history of violating women's consent, critics have ample reason for skepticism.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has claimed that should Trump attempt to dismantle these programs, he will face tough opposition.

"I pledge to work with the incoming Administration to advance policies that support and protect women and girls worldwide," Shaheen said in a statement provided to CBS News, "but I can promise that if the next administration intends to roll back programs designed to lift women up, it will very quickly meet stiff opposition in the Senate."

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