Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend a dinner with Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, at Mar-a-Lago, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Ivanka and Jared aren't as powerful as White House leakers make it seem

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are struggling with their limited policy-making power


Matthew Rozsa
July 31, 2017 9:40PM (UTC)

Donald Trump's eldest daughter may have the president's trust, but that doesn't mean he cares about her policy views.

If a new report is to be believed, top White House adviser Ivanka Trump doesn't have nearly as much clout in the administration as she would probably like. This fact is perhaps best captured by the following anecdote from a new Politico story about how Ivanka and her husband, fellow presidential adviser Jared Kushner, first learned about the president's proposed transgender military ban:

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Last week they were blindsided by the president’s tweet saying he planned to ban transgender people from serving in the military, according to several White House aides, a major coup for conservatives who had been quietly lobbying the administration on the issue for months.

White House officials said the first daughter was surprised by her father’s posts; in the past, Trump has been a supporter of gay rights. Ivanka Trump, according to these officials, learned of the decision when she saw her father’s tweet on her phone.

As publicist and Trump family friend R. Couri Hay told Politico, Ivanka is "in there doing what she can. It’s unrealistic, unfair and cruel to expect her to change climate policy and pre-K and women’s issues in six months." Instead, she would like to be judged on her success or failure passing a child care tax credit in Trump's tax reform plan, making sure paid family leave is included in the Republican budget, ending human trafficking and making sure a World Bank fund she helped start will help aspiring female entrepreneurs. She has also insisted that she needs to pick her battles to avoid being viewed as a "super-lib" and thereby earn the distrust of congressional Republicans, with whom she'll need to work.

By contrast, Ivanka Trump's husband, Jared Kushner, seems to be focusing more on issues like incorporating technological innovations to the federal government.

This isn't to say that Ivanka hasn't played a consequential role in her father's administration. In the same week that the president decided to ban transgender soldiers from the military, Ivanka was fundraising for one of the most notoriously anti-LGBT politicians in the country, Vice President Mike Pence. She has been simultaneously propped up as a potential ally for liberals and used as the center of controversy when her fashion line was dropped by Nordstrom.

That said, it seems pretty clear that — regardless of what opinions Ivanka actually holds about American politics — her image, not her philosophy, is what matters to the Trump White House.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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