How do you solve a problem like Ivanka?

Ivanka Trump's formal role and informal influence in the White House is already under scrutiny.
Ivanka Trump's formal role and informal influence in the White House is already under scrutiny.
Role, influence of the 'First Daughter' raising uncomfortable questions in US

Ivanka Trump was a key player in her father’s election campaign, and people are closely watching the next moves by President-elect Donald Trump’s 35-year-old daughter.

She’s attended meetings with high-profile figures including the Japanese prime minister and technology leaders, and indicated her interest in working on policy issues such as child care.

The Trump Organisation executive vice-president also owns her own company that sells clothes and jewellery. While three of Trump’s adult children are viewed as close advisers, he highlights Ivanka and has made clear he’d love to have her with him when he moves into the White House.

Questions are being asked about conflicts of interest between the business interests of Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, who runs a real estate and construction business and is one of Trump’s most trusted advisers, and any roles they may have in the new administration.

What we know about Ivanka:


One of Trump’s three children with his first wife Ivana, Ivanka is an executive vice-president of the family business with brothers Donald Jr, 38, and Eric, 32, as well as running her own fashion business.

Just how the president-elect will handle his business interests remains unclear.

Ivanka recently drew criticism after her company promoted a $US10,800 bracelet she wore during a 60 Minutes interview. The company later apologised.

Since then, she has sought to put some distance between herself and her fashion business.

But ethics questions continue to come up. “Coffee with Ivanka Trump” was listed on a charity fundraising website. Offered by the Eric Trump Foundation, it was to raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Eric shut down down the bidding — 10 days after it started — about an hour after the New York Times raised questions.

Ethics lawyers said Ivanka and Eric’s role seemed highly inappropriate because they were offering access in exchange for money, while being closely involved with the transition team.


Trump’s team says no official decision has been made about Ivanka’s role, but the president-elect has made his wishes known.

Congress passed an anti-nepotism law in 1967 that prohibits the president from appointing a family member to work in a role the president oversees.

Trump confidant Kellyanne Conway said the law has “an exception if you want to work in the West Wing, because the president is able to appoint his own staff.”

“I think we’ll have to see how the laws read. I would love to be able to have them [Ivanka and Kusher] involved,” Trump said.

Ivanka and Kushner have examined how he could join the administration without violating the laws. He is looking at having a staff and an office in the White House, although no final decisions have been made.

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, said: “I don’t believe that this statue exempts the White House.”


While much about Ivanka’s future role is murky, her policy interests are quite clear.

Throughout the campaign she highlighted her interest in issues like child care, pay equity and maternity leave. Her father mentioned those issues rarely.

Ivanka met Republican congresswomen on these issues in September. Since the election she has continued the conversation.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of an advocacy group for women and families, responded: “Ivanka Trump is right that child care and paid family leave are national emergencies, but she was not elected to be president of the United States of America and her dad, who was, has taken the opposite approach,” she said.


Throughout the campaign, Ivanka played a more prominent role than Trump’s third wife, Melania, who has focused her attention on 10-year-old son Barron.

Trump said Melania and Barron would not move from New York to Washington until the end of the school year. There is historical precedent for a daughter or sister to shoulder social responsibilities.

Since the election Melania has kept a low profile while Ivanka has been a regular fixture at Trump Tower in New York. A number of the transition team’s executive committee meetings have been on the 25th floor, where all three of Trump’s adult children have offices, and last she appeared in a photo with Kanye West when he visited her father.


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