There are plenty of reasons why installing one’s adult child as a senior adviser to oneself, the president of the United States, is a thorny choice. Those dynastic implications, for one, or the banana republic look and feel of it all. The complexity of the relationship has been well-covered, but a Today show interview that aired Monday morning put the complications into somewhat starker relief. We’re talking about Ivanka Trump and her father, Donald, of course, because when are we not talking about these people?
Ivanka chastised NBC’s Peter Alexander for asking whether she believes her father’s accusers, referring to the 16 women who alleged that he engaged in non-consensual sexual conduct (it is the president’s and White House’s position that all the women are lying). Ivanka, the senior adviser and assistant to the president said, “I think it is a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he has affirmatively stated that there is no truth to it. I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters. I believe my father, I know my father. So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”
“Do you believe your father’s [sexual misconduct] accusers?” –@PeterAlexander
“I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he’s affirmatively stated there’s no truth to it.” –@IvankaTrump pic.twitter.com/23AVPgcOdE
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 26, 2018
If there’s confusion about what’s appropriate to ask the daughter and what’s appropriate to ask a government employee, it’s because her position is still very confusing. Any effort to draw lines has largely happened behind the scenes, if at all. Publicly, Ivanka’s Janusian ability to switch from diplomat to daughter when convenient has remained transparent since her father’s campaign—like when she espoused a panacea of “women’s issues” while her father’s Access Hollywood tape circulated, or the royal family-esque treatment she receives abroad. In this interview, she finds herself in a familiar spot: that same commitment to “women’s issues” a year into her D.C. tenure would suggests she’s a natural ally in the #MeToo era. Her doting daughter allegiance to her father will forever undermine that tack.
Elsewhere in the Today interview, she did wear her adviser hat while walking a tight rope along her father’s recent gun-control policy riffs. She ultimately succeeded in delivering a signature milquetoast response. “I think that having a teacher who is armed, who cares deeply about her students, or his students, and who is capable and qualified to bear arms is not a bad idea, but it is an idea that needs to be discussed,” she said, buffering for all possibilities. Maybe her title should be neither “daughter” nor “diplomat” but, officially, the White House hedge.