I still say “nepotism.”
So Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was given a role as senior adviser to Trump’s campaign. Now his daughter, Ivanka, is getting an office in the West Wing, security clearance, and government issued communication devices.
What’s she’s not getting is a salary, nor the ethical responsibility that comes from being a paid adviser. The hope is that she’ll adhere to those standards on her own.
Ivanka Trump’s role, according to her attorney Jamie Gorelick, will be to serve as the president’s “eyes and ears” while providing broad-ranging advice, not just limited to women’s empowerment issues. Last week, for instance, Ivanka Trump raised eyebrows when she was seated next to Angela Merkel for the German chancellor’s first official visit to Trump’s White House.
As her role in the White House grows — a role that comes with no playbook — Ivanka Trump plans to adhere to the same ethics and records retention rules that apply to government employees, Gorelick said, even though she is not technically an employee. But ethics watchdogs immediately questioned whether she is going far enough to eliminate conflicts of interest, especially because she will not be automatically subjected to certain ethics rules while serving as a de facto White House adviser.
Ivanka’s new role was cleared with White House counsel, so for now, it’s little more than an unusual arrangement.
How big of an influence she has within the administration, going forward, remains to be seen.
Ivanka Trump still owns her eponymous fashion and jewelry brand, even though she stepped down from her position at the company ahead of her father’s inauguration. She is also publishing a book, “Women Who Work,” which is due out in May.
“I will continue to offer my father my candid advice and counsel, as I have for my entire life,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement. “While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees.”
Keep in mind, she’s taken no oath and her role is unofficial, so she’s not bound by ethics rules. She just promises that she’ll abide by them.
And it’s more new territory for the nation.
Ivanka Trump has business interests that could potentially conflict with her new role, unofficial or not.
Under the new rules, Ivanka Trump has divested her common stock, tech investments, investment funds — and they will all appear on Kushner’s 278 financial disclosure form, required by all Cabinet nominees. Bloomberg News reported on Monday afternoon that Ivanka Trump and Kushner sold as much as $36.7 million in assets to comply with federal ethics rules, according to the Office of Government Ethics.
But when it comes to divesting from her business, however, Gorelick admitted there is no way to make it a conflict-free zone.
“The one thing I would like to be clear on: we don’t believe it eliminates conflicts in every way,” Gorelick said. “She has the conflicts that derive from the ownership of this brand. We’re trying to minimize those to the extent possible.”
She intends to distance herself from the day-to-day operations, and is putting her interest in a trust, to be operated by her brother-in-law, Josh Kushner, and sister-in-law, Nicole Meyer.
Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, will also serve as the outside ethics adviser to the trustees. The business will also be prohibited from using her image to market the brand.
Under the trust, her attorneys said, Ivanka Trump will receive only the information she needs for disclosure requirements and to facilitate compliance with conflict of interest and impartiality rules.
Nothing with this administration is surprising to me, anymore. Appearances and ethics don’t really matter. Because she’s a Trump, we’re supposed to just accept that everything they do will be ethical and above board.
I remember some of the comments of outrage when it was discovered that Sasha and Malia Obama were being listed as “senior staff” on travel rosters for the Obamas.
This is quite a bit more ethically precarious than that.