WASHINGTON, Apr 6: Ivanka Trump has the US president’s ear like few others, but in her first interview since formally joining the White House she insisted she can also disagree with her father with “total candor.”
Donald Trump’s eldest daughter and her husband Jared Kushner have emerged as key figures in the president’s inner circle, enjoying his full trust and in Kushner’s case a fast-expanding portfolio despite their lack of prior policy experience.
The first daughter already had a White House office and has been a highly visible presence at Trump’s side, hosting foreign leaders and sitting in on policy meetings, but her role had yet to be formally defined.
That changed last week when it was announced the 35-year-old businesswoman will become an unpaid federal employee, with the title of assistant to the president, in an apparent move to quell concerns about her level of security access and potential conflicts of interest.
Speaking to “CBS This Morning” in her first major interview since the inauguration, Ivanka Trump — who has often been portrayed as a moderating influence on her father — gave some insight into how she sees her unprecedented new role.
“I’m still my father’s daughter,” she said. “But I’ll weigh in with my father on the issues I feel strongly about.”
Whenever she disagrees with the Republican leader, “he knows it,” she said. “And I express myself with total candor.”
When pressed however she declined to provide examples of areas of divergence.
“This isn’t about promoting my viewpoints,” Ivanka Trump told CBS. “I wasn’t elected by the American people to be president.”
“Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda” and hope to “make a positive impact. But I respect the fact that he always listens,” she added.
Ivanka Trump also addressed the charge from critics that she has failed to speak out in areas — from gay rights to abortion to climate change — where she is believed to hold views more liberal than others in the Trump administration.
“I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence,” she said.
– Power couple –
Ivanka Trump has increasingly taken on a role more typical of that of a first lady, joining her father in hosting high-profile foreign leaders from Japan’s Shinzo Abe to Germany’s Angela Merkel or Canada’s Justin Trudeau.
Her businessman husband, who like her actively campaigned in the 2016 race, has meanwhile been given a large and growing role as senior advisor to Trump, reflecting the level of trust the couple enjoys with the president.
Kushner has so far been tasked with achieving peace in the Middle East, bringing business practices to help reform the US government, and smoothing over ties with Mexico. He has also traveled to China and Iraq to meet with top officials.
The first daughter addressed concerns about her 36-year-old husband’s lack of experience to prepare him for such a prominent role in US domestic and foreign affairs.
“Jared is incredibly smart, very talented, has enormous capacity,” Ivanka told CBS. “He is humble in the recognition of what he doesn’t know, and is tremendously secure in his ability to seek informed viewpoints.”
– Monsters trucks and swings –
The power couple have come under renewed scrutiny since White House documents last week disclosed that they have held onto real estate and business investments worth between $240 million and $740 million, fueling fresh fears about possible conflicts of interest.
Ivanka Trump, who headed an eponymous fashion line as part of her father’s business empire, told CBS she no longer played any part in its operations.
“I have independent trustees. I have no involvement in its management, in this oversight and its strategic decision making,” she said.
“I felt like proximity to my father and to the White House and — with my husband taking such an influential role in the administration, I didn’t want to also be running a business. So I put it into trust.”
On a lighter and more personal note, Ivanka Trump also spoke warmly about her experience of leaving her native New York to be close to her father in the US capital — saying she had enjoyed the move.
So far she’s taken her three children ages one through five to the capital’s museums, to the Supreme Court and to a monster truck show in nearby Baltimore and — cherry on the cake — her new home in the upscale Kalorama district has “a backyard with a swing set.”
“As a New Yorker, that doesn’t happen,” she quipped.