Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are planning to move to Washington D.C., according to CNN, apparently giving up on any pretense that the president-elect’s children will help him avoid conflicts of interest by running his business and keeping it separate from his administration, as he’s claimed they would.
During his campaign, Donald Trump paraded his 35-year-old daughter Ivanka’s supposed feminism around as if it would counteract his own disregard for women’s bodily autonomy. (Nevermind the fact that his lecherous comments about his own daughter’s body were disturbingly on-brand for the alleged sexual predator.) In the weeks since the election, it’s become clear that Ivanka-as-female-buffer wasn’t just a campaign ploy, but a central part of Trump’s plan for his presidency.
During his post-election call with House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Trump reportedly handed the phone over to Ivanka when Pelosi brought up women’s issues. This casual hand-off is disturbing for myriad reasons. Primarily, it belays an extreme lack of interest in, or knowledge of, women’s issues on the president-elect’s part. That’s nothing new of course, but this brush-off shows that he’s not even trying to pretend to appear to care or understand. It also shows that he really doesn’t understand that being president isn’t like running a company; you can’t groom your children to take over for you by having them sit in on meetings and delegating to them as you see fit. Or at least you couldn’t have until now.
Many believe Ivanka to be an ally of those who disagree with her father’s politics. But let’s not put too much hope in her just yet.
Despite the problems with Trump handing control of the women’s issues department of President Trump Corp. to his daughter, many are holding out hope that Ivanka might be the only chance to get paid parental leave, abortion access and equal pay on the table in her father’s administration. Recently, she told Politico that she plans to make climate change one of her “signature issues”–sounding, as Politico points out, more like a First Lady than a First Daughter. She even met with her father and Al Gore to discuss climate change, providing a glimmer of hope that she’d move our next president closer to sanity and away from his previous position that climate change is “a hoax invented by the Chinese.”
Last week, armed with an open letter and the slogan “Dear Ivanka,” protesters held a candlelight vigil outside of her apartment in New York City to address concerns about healthcare, antisemitism, marriage equality, hate crimes and more under Trump’s growing administration. “Dear Ivanka, I’ve been raped and I need to get an abortion,” their letter read. “Dear Ivanka, New York will be underwater if we ignore climate change.” If he’s going to treat her like part of his cabinet, the protesters seemed to suggest, so will they.
They weren’t the only ones. In the weeks after the election, according to the New York Times, Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former policy advisor to Secretary Hillary Clinton, reached out to Ivanka in an attempt to open lines of communication. Those across-the-aisle conversations make it appear as though many believe Ivanka to be an ally of those who disagree with her father’s politics. But let’s not put too much hope in her just yet.
Granting his children control of his company was Trump’s makeshift solution to his rampant conflicts of interest. His foreign policy decisions could easily influence the success of his business interests in more than 20 countries, and vice versa. His hotels run on low-cost labor, which gives him plenty of incentive to veto minimum wage increases that have made it past Congress. He has obvious interest in keeping real estate taxes low; an extensive and disturbing list of more conflicts of interest can be found here. The solution to put his children in charge of the Trump Organization was suspect to begin with; as time goes, the idea that they could maintain a Chinese wall between politics and business is becoming more laughable.
As Ivanka carves out a central role for herself in her father’s administration, the pretense of such a wall is tumbling before it’s even been built. So far, she has used her father’s post-election 60 Minutes interview to sell a bracelet. She was also in the middle of closing a deal with a Japanese company when she joined her father for a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Her father hasn’t even been sworn in yet. As desperate as we are to believe that there will be a voice of reason whispering into Trump’s ear, we need to remember that Ivanka is just as entrenched in conflicts of interest as the rest of the Trumps. She won’t save us.