It's been no secret that President Donald Trump thinks extremely highly of his daughter, and wants her involved in his administration. Not long after his inauguration, rumors began to swirl that Ivanka would be taking on first lady duties instead of Trump's wife, Melania, though Ivanka denied the plan. But now it looks like she found a role that could be just as influential. What will Ivanka Trump do in the White House? Her role will be unofficial and she won't have a title or be considered a government employee. But what she will have, according to CNN, is an office in the West Wing and security clearance, access to classified information, and government-provided communication devices.
The news isn't exactly very shocking, especially since Ivanka has already been involved, unofficially, throughout her father's campaign, and during his transition to office. And her husband, Jared Kusher, has also already taken on an official position in the administration, according to CNN, acting as senior White House adviser. But despite the fact she will no doubt be an important member of Trump's White House inner circle, her role will be quite different on paper. Despite basically becoming a full-time employee, her attorney said that Ivanka will not be earning a salary, will not have an official title, and won't be sworn in, according to Politico.
Those close to the Trumps have said that, while the arrangement might seem strange — and while it is certainly unprecedented for the White House — it's actually quite normal based on the way that Ivanka and Trump have always worked together. In a statement following the announcement, Ivanka said, I will continue to offer my father my candid advice and counsel, as I have for my entire life," according to The Telegraph. And it does certainly appear as though this arrangement is just a continuation of the supporting role Ivanka has long played for her father while working together in business.
The question though, as usual, is should that be happening? Even before the announcement Ivanka has been a very visible presence in the White House, according to The Telegraph, and has participating in meetings with a number of world leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and most recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Experts have argued that Ivanka's role is very concerning though. Washington University ethics professor Kathleen Clark told ABC News she thought the arrangement was "outrageous," and noted that "the White House seems to be pretending that it can treat somebody as a government employee — give them an office and responsibilities — and not be bound by government ethics standards."
ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts agreed, arguing that the unofficial nature of Ivanka's role makes it much easier for her to side-step any potential ethical issues. Roberts said,
The more formal [her role] is, the less powerful it is. She’s much more powerful as an adviser without a portfolio, where she can credibly say, ‘I’m just there to be my dad’s daughter and give him advice.’ She is wise to say she will abide by government rules, but there’s no real way of checking.
So far, it's not clear exactly what Ivanka will contribute to her father's administration, and given the unofficial nature of her role, it's unlikely that we will ever find out for sure. But some have looked at Ivanka's influence as one that is less about actual policy, and perhaps more about helping her father on a personal level. When tweeting outrage over Nordstrom's decision to drop Ivanka's clothing like, he mentioned that Ivanka is "a great person," who is "always pushing me to do the right thing." That seems to be an important aspect of their relationship, and for those who are hoping that the rumor of Ivanka and Kushner having more progressive values is actually true, having Ivanka there could potentially be a good decision. But since her position is also basically voluntary, the truth is that we likely won't know very much at all about the ways in which Ivanka will shape the White House.