Even without a formal title, Ivanka Trump is steadily carving out an expanded role in her father’s White House – which in the last few days alone has touched on everything from combating human trafficking to pushing affordable child care policies.
Her influence could be seen most recently in President Trump’s address earlier this week to a joint session of Congress. Trump’s call for affordable child care, paid family leave and help for women entrepreneurs was widely seen as bearing Ivanka’s signature.
A senior administration official told Axios that while policy guru and chief wordsmith Stephen Miller largely penned Trump’s speech, “Ivanka worked hard on it with him on many of the parts, especially affirming that the president's desire to have an uplifting and aspirational speech was right.”
Ever since Ivanka Trump announced in January she was taking a formal leave of absence from The Trump Organization, moving to Washington, D.C., with husband Jared Kushner and their three children, speculation has been widespread over what her portfolio would look like.
Broadly speaking, ex-congressional aide and VP of the Keelen Group lobbying firm Frank McCarthy predicted on Fox News’ “Strategy Room” that she would “soften the edges of her father’s agenda,” in turn attracting greater bipartisan support.
Trump’s husband, unlike her, is an official senior adviser to the president, expected to handle Middle East peace negotiations and other issues. But together, the two of them have advocated on additional policy matters.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the couple “intervened to strike language about the [Obama-era] climate deal from an earlier draft” of a pending executive order on climate change.
As early as Feb. 2, Politico reported the couple went to work on gay and transgender rights by advocating for the elimination of a proposed executive order that would reverse some protections in the workplace.
The White House later released a statement vowing that a 2014 order protecting “employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”
Ivanka Trump also has emerged as a fixture in high-level meetings.
On Feb. 3, she sat between Ernst & Young CEO Mark Weinberger and Global Infrastructure Partners Chairman Adebayo Ogunlesi at a Business Advisory Council Meeting, where they discussed tax and trade, regulation and women in the workforce.
At last week's Business Advisory Council meeting, leveling the playing field for women in the workforce was one of the key topics discussed. pic.twitter.com/2mygrK4dQv— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 7, 2017
She continued her crusade for working women on Feb. 13 when she joined her father in welcoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the White House. She joined the two leaders in a roundtable discussion with female executives from the United States and Canada, which resulted in the establishment of the United States Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders and Female Entrepreneurs.
Trump, who frequently includes the hashtag #WomenWhoWork in her social media posts, has been a longtime champion for gender equity in the workforce.
She also sat across from her father on Feb. 23 in a meeting as he vowed to crack down on human trafficking, in an effort involving the departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
However, Trump’s unofficial role opens the door to continuing questions regarding her qualifications and potential ethical conflicts.
Jeremy Mayer, an associate professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, said while she clearly is “a bright woman … nothing in her background suggests an aptitude for policy or politics at this level.”
He voiced concerns about her inclusion in non-social settings with prime ministers or in certain policy debates. Mayer also noted unintended consequences from making a family member point person on policy, such as when former President Bill Clinton put first lady Hillary Clinton in charge of health care reform.
“[I]t prevented the normal White House policy process from happening. Nobody wanted to tell the president that his wife was leading the effort badly, when by several measures she was making bad political choices at various points,” he said in an email.
As for Ivanka Trump’s past with The Trump Organization, he noted she has “largely severed” those ties – but suggested there could be problems with her benefiting from profits off her own brands.
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway already got in hot water for promoting Ivanka Trump’s brand during a “Fox & Friends” interview.