Ivanka Trump sits with foreign dignitariesduring important meetings, is setting up an office in the White House, is being issued government communications devices, and is seeking national security clearance. What’s she doing exactly? Nobody knows. What qualifies her? Apparently, being the president’s daughter.
There’s a word for this: nepotism. And it makes everything Ivanka has done up to this point to position herself as an example for working women into a farce. By taking this role, Ivanka is taking away a life-changing opportunity from another woman, who undoubtedly would have more expertise than the first daughter.
Trump’s spinners will argue the arrangement is not a violation of federal nepotism laws because Ivanka is not being given a salary or title—a stunning symbol of privilege in itself. Ivanka’s too wealthy to need the salary and too well-known to need a title, a slap in the face to women who have toiled for years, for little pay, hoping to work up the ladder and obtain a White House job one day.
If Ivanka Trump were not the president’s daughter, would she be given a White House office to perform a job that has no description? Of course not. Don’t believe me? Just try calling the White House and asking if you can have some gratis office space at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., one of the most coveted properties on the planet.
More worrisome, Ivanka’s White House entrance shows how willing the Trump White House is to flout laws that apply to everyone else. With the appointment of Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, as a senior adviser, the White House stated it did not believe federal nepotism laws should apply to the White House. The laws, they said, were only meant for agency appointments. When the president has been questioned about the conflicts of interest his businesses pose to his duties as president, Trump has said, “The president can’t have a conflict of interest.” The double standards are dubious.
Now Ivanka wants us to believe, as she said in a statement, that she will “voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees.” That statement, however, only reinforces the central problem. Ethics laws are not voluntary for other government employees; compliance is required. Plus, she’s already shown she doesn’t understand the rules by using a 60 Minutes appearance with the president to promote her jewelry line. The next time this happens, will she “volunteer” to face punishment, which, depending on the violation, could even include jail time? That’s not a hard question to answer.
But answers we need. And since Ivanka is taking advantage of taxpayer-funded resources, taxpayers have every right to ask to know what Ivanka is doing with them. Ivanka’s attorney told Politico she will serve as her father’s “eyes and ears,” a job description so vague, not to mention creepy, that it only functions to give the billionaire heiress cover to do whatever she, or her father, wants.
In the past, Ivanka, to a large degree, was given leeway because it was widely believed her new Washington role would mainly take place outside official government channels. That changed with her decision to claim White House office space and a national security clearance. We need the details. Ivanka has said she doesn’t want to be thought of as first lady, but she should know she’s giving off the air of an entitled royal princess.
Ivanka will continue to pretend she’s a model for working women, applauding herself for having a “seat at the table” with foreign dignitaries, as she did in this Instagram photo. Just remember she’s only sitting in that seat because her daddy let her. That’s not the case for the overwhelming majority of working women in America and we shouldn’t celebrate anyone for whom that is.