The big news has been confirmed: Ivanka Trump has an office in the West Wing of the White House, according to Politico. She will also be allowed to receive classified government information. The loophole that keeps this “legal” is that she doesn’t have an official title or salary, so she’s not officially “hired.” But a lot of people are not thrilled with this workaround. As Cosmopolitan’s Amanda Carpenter wrote:
“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.”
She’s right. It’s impossible to say that Ivanka earned her position. Even on a basic note, where are her qualifications? No one else would be able to simply fall into a West Wing office otherwise. According to Politico, Ivanka will have her own office on the second floor of the West Wing. In the piece, Trump’s attorney and ethics adviser Jamie Gorelick also stated that Ivanka will receive government-issued communications devices and have security clearance to classified information. Gorelick stated:
“Our view is that the conservative approach is for Ivanka to voluntarily comply with the rules that would apply if she were a government employee, even though she is not. The White House Counsel’s Office agrees with that approach.”
Ivanka has sat in on meetings with foreign leaders, like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel regardless of the fact that she’s not a hired White House employee–nor can she legally be. What’s the real difference, at this point, between being an unsalaried advisor–and a salaried one?
It’s also important to remember that Ivanka was supposed to step down as head of her company, and give her position to former Chief Brand Officer Abigail Klem, and “and transferred its assets to a new trust overseen by relatives of her husband,” according to The New York Times. But the Times has reported that she hasn’t exactly left it completely, since she opted not to do a blind trust:
“Under the new arrangement, Ms. Trump will no longer appear in advertisements, Ms. Gorelick said, and she has separated her business and personal social media accounts.
Ms. Trump could have opted for a blind trust, which keeps beneficiaries in the dark about their assets — a move favored by modern presidents but not commonly used by employees in the executive branch, said Richard W. Painter, the chief White House ethics adviser under President George W. Bush.
That was an untenable option for Ms. Trump, Ms. Gorelick said, because it would have forced her to sell the company, giving another owner the ability to use the family name.
The trust prohibits her brand from reaching agreements with foreign governments or state-owned enterprises. But deals with domestic companies could also present problems.
Macy’s and other stores sell Ms. Trump’s clothes and accessories in the United States. At the same time, the retail industry has been lobbying against a tax on imports that President Trump is considering.”
Basically, this means Ivanka still have power and influence over her company, even if she is no longer the face of the brand (she’s still it’s name though!).
The laughable part about all of is the fact that she stated she will “voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees,” which is contradictory considering that’s not something that should be optional. Ethic laws are part of a government employees’ job, volunteer or not. Isn’t it disconcerting to think she’s been gracious by voluntarily agreeing?
Remember that time she appeared on 60 Minutes appearance with her dad to promote her jewelry line? I do.
— katie rosman (@katierosman) November 15, 2016
Hopefully, Ivanka will realize she can’t do that kind of thing anymore, although she shouldn’t have to begin with. To me, it seems like Ivanka is far more into the idea of being seen as a women’s rights activist and posting photos of herself on Instagram sitting in on meetings, than actually doing anything meaningful for anyone. I don’t count her $500 billion child care tax benefit program as helpful to most people in the U.S. (considering it excludes low-income earners and LGBTQ parents)–or her #WomenWhoWork campaign, which mostly just speaks to affluent women.
I can’t be too surprised that Ivanka seems to be more of a figurehead than an actual activist for women. I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt and believe she may learn while she’s “on the job” and that her lack of experience is showing–but I can’t right now.