The many versions of Caitlyn Jenner, chronicled in her new book, The Secrets of My Life, have passed through a dizzying series of variations, from a Wheaties box-ready, gold medal-winning Olympian in her former identity as Bruce, to the henpecked husband and paterfamilias of the Kardashian clan and featured player in their reality-television juggernaut, to—at age 65, when she announced her biggest secret to the world—the planet’s most famous transgender woman.
The now 67-year-old Jenner, who has been a celebrity for most of her time on earth and spent the past two years as the nation’s highest-profile activist for LGBTQ rights and equality, exuded energy and enthusiasm in an on-camera Daily Beast interview with CNN commentator and Republican political consultant Margaret Hoover (who is married to Daily Beast Editor in Chief John Avlon and has worked with Jenner for the past year on Hoover’s American Unity Fund, a Republican-oriented advocacy group “dedicated to advancing the cause of freedom for LGBTQ Americans by making the conservative case that freedom truly means freedom for everyone”).
Jenner talked about her happier life since her transition—“I’m a better person today”—and discussed her deep disappointment concerning LGBTQ issues with Donald Trump, the candidate she supported for president, and members of his administration who are seeking to roll back rights established during the presidency of Barack Obama.
Jenner was particularly critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who as an Alabama senator consistently voted against legislation ensuring LGBQT rights and has persisted in his opposition at the Justice Department, while influencing the policies at other Cabinet agencies.
“I have talked to [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos. She’s actually on our side. She’s extraordinarily good,” Jenner said.
Yet revised federal education policies under DeVos and Trump have rescinded protections for transgender students, prompting worry among these children and their parents.
Jenner blamed Sessions.
“He’s the bigger problem,” she said. “Trump is the middle of the road. I ultimately hold him responsible.”
Jenner added that “since the Republicans are in power right now,” members of the LGBTQ community “have to engage the Republican Party. We don’t wanna go backward… I’m not very excited over the first 100 days of the Trump administration.”
Jenner said that during a brief conversation with the new president during the inaugural festivities in Washington, Trump repeatedly invited her to play golf with him.
And would she?, Hoover asked.
“No,” Jenner replied briskly. “I couldn’t. I would get destroyed by my community. My loyalties are not with Donald Trump. My loyalties are not with the Republican Party. My loyalties are with my community, and to make it better for my community. I think it wouldn’t be very respectful of my community to be visible out there and play golf with Trump.”
On the other hand, Jenner said that if she could meet with the president in private to press the LGBTQ cause, “I would absolutely do that in a heartbeat. I can’t look like I’m having fun. It’s business. Unfortunately, a lot of things are going backward for our community.”
Jenner added that she would probably need to “sneak” into the White House for such a meeting, where she would demand of the president, “What the heck are you doing?”
As to her own future ambitions, given her huge name-recognition Jenner could even run for U.S. senator from her home state of California when 83-year-old Democrat Dianne Feinstein decides to retire.
“I feel like, where can I do the most good?” Jenner said. “Can I do the most good in the position that I’m in right now—which is kind of on the outside and playing the game politically for our community?” said Jenner, who describes herself as a conservative Republican and a faithful Christian. “Or would it be better to be on the inside? I don’t know that yet. And I’ll probably figure that out in the future.
“But the good news is, I don’t have any more secrets,” Jenner added. “It’s all out. I’m an open book.”
“I can see a Senator Jenner,” Hoover suggested.
“Can you see a Senator Jenner? Hmm!” Jenner replied, clearly not dismissing the possibility.
During the interview, Jenner also addressed the controversy surrounding her daughter Kendall’s participation in a Pepsi commercial that used imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement and, according to legions of critics, trivialized the nationwide protests against the unjustified deaths of black Americans at the hands of police.
After near-universal expressions of outrage, including a mocking parody of the ad and Kendall on Saturday Night Live, Pepsi abjectly apologized and pulled the commercial from the airwaves.
“It wasn’t Kendall’s fault. Yes, it was a bad situation with Pepsi,” Jenner said about her 21-year-old daughter. “Kendall is the most wonderful, adorable, sweet young woman, OK? She’s a model. She got hired by Pepsi. She was very excited to go do a Pepsi commercial, kinda like Cindy Crawford did. And Cindy Crawford is like her hero and idol.”
Jenner said Kendall read the script, considered it “quite good,” shot the spot, and was “happy the way it went.”
“Then it came out, and oh boy!” Jenner continued. “There was a group of people out there that just thought, ‘Wait a second, this is not working!’ Kendall was very surprised.”
Jenner added that “there were polls done then and like 72 percent of the people liked the commercial. It was a small group that actually shut it down very quickly. Pepsi pulled it pretty quickly.”
In a remark guaranteed to fuel further controversy for Kendall, Jenner added: “Sometimes I wish they would have maybe been a little tougher and held it out there, and said, ‘Look, this not about those things. This is not about Black Lives Matter or any of that.’ But they just decided they’re moving on.
“Anytime you’re involved with something you want it to be successful. Unfortunately, this was not successful.”
Jenner also recounted a conversation she had, during a Washington cocktail party before the inauguration, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife, Karen.
Jenner said she told Pence, who as governor of Indiana was deeply unsympathetic to the LGBTQ cause and supported religious-based programs to convert gays to straights, that she wanted to explain “my journey” and the conservative basis of LGBTQ rights to him in a private meeting.
The future veep seemed willing, and Jenner said she “sealed the deal” by lobbying Karen Pence as well.
“You should come to the meeting,” Jenner told Mrs. Pence.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be there,” Karen Pence replied.
Of course—the vice president famously won’t meet with a woman without his wife being present.