In the months since President Donald Trump won his victory in the Electoral College and ascended to his fraught, chaotic presidency, his elder daughter Ivanka Trump has been held out as a possible voice of reason — a socially liberal Manhattanite who could potentially temper her father’s reckless appeals to the nativism, rage and retrograde social views of the right-wing base.
According to a Sunday night essay from Politico.com, Ivanka Trump is finding out some difficult truths about the reach of her influence within the White House and her inability to steer her father away from his most destructive and self-serving impulses.
While Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner scored a win of sorts this week in the firing of former RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, Pres. Trump’s announcement that he wants to ban transgender military personnel from service blindsided his daughter, who learned about the tweet when she read it on her phone.
“For all the talk of a White House war between New York City liberals and traditionalist conservatives, it was the latest example of the limited influence the moderates have been able to wield on policy,” wrote Politico’s Annie Karni and Eliana Johnson.
In April, Ivanka Trump insisted in an interview that her father values her opinion and always listens, even when they disagree.
“Where I disagree with my father, he knows it. And I express myself with total candor,” Trump told CBS News.
“Actions speak louder than words,” said the Human Rights Coalition’s national press secretary Sarah McBride. “Either Ivanka is ineffective in her advocacy within the building, or her voice doesn’t matter to the president as much as she hopes it does.”
Ivanka and Kushner successfully forestalled a nationwide Indiana-style “religious freedom” law that would allow people of faith to discriminate with impunity. However the couple pleaded with the president not to withdraw from the Paris Accord climate change pact to no avail.
“She’s in there doing what she can,” said former National Enquirer gossip columnist turned PR professional R. Couri Hay, a longtime Trump booster. “It’s unrealistic, unfair and cruel to expect her to change climate policy and pre-K and women’s issues in six months.”
Now, with her father’s presidency in disarray and the tide of public opinion rising ever higher against the family that has positioned itself at the very top of the U.S. government, Ivanka Trump is trying to resize expectations.
“She has told allies that she wants to be held accountable solely on those issues she is actively working on,” Politico said, rather than being shamed for her inability to stop her father from making reckless moves and saying — and tweeting — things that undermine his administration.
The apparel company CEO and socialite wants reports to concentrate on her fund at the World Back for women entrepreneurs and her stance against human trafficking.
“Allies have bucked up her spirits by telling her that her legacy will look better in hindsight if she is successful in moving the needle on her stated issues,” Politico said. “And as she navigates the unique role of working-daughter-in-the-White House, she is reading Eleanor Roosevelt’s biography for guidance and inspiration.”
Ivanka Trump is anxious not to ruin her credibility with Republicans, whose support she needs now that she has been inextricably tarred with her association to her father in her native Manhattan.
“Everyone knew that Jared’s father was a felon and her father was a buffoon, but you looked past that because they stood on their own two feet and were sophisticated and presentable. They were accepted despite their parents. Now, there’s no separating the two,” said one longtime friend.
Other people who have known the heiress through the worlds of fashion and the New York socialite set are not optimistic that the First Daughter has the character to stand up to her overbearing father.
“I know her well enough to know her relationship with her father, which is that she will never, ever, go against the grain,” said one person to Politico.
A close family friend said that Ivanka picked up early on that she earned special praise and attention from her father when she pleased his expectations of her, saying, “She wanted to be the apple of her father’s eye. There’s no question, she worked hard to be the perfect image her father wanted.”
Fashion designer Charlotte Ronson answered Politico’s inquiry about working with Ivanka Trump by saying, “Fortunately, I don’t know her well enough to give any good accounts.”