Ivanka Trump given West Wing office and security clearance in expanded White House role

Barney Henderson
Ivanka Trump - Reuters

Ivanka Trump has been given her own West Wing office, confirming her position as a key member of her father's White House team.

When she moved to Washington earlier this year, Ms Trump said she would not be playing a formal role in the administration. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior adviser to President Donald Trump.

However, it was confirmed on Monday that the first daughter now has a West Wing office next to senior adviser Dina Powell, who serves on the National Security Council, will get access to classified information and be given security clearance.

Ms Trump has been a very visible presence during Mr Trump's first two months in the White House, participating in meetings with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, and, on Friday, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

Her regular presence has raised eyebrows because she has no official position.

Jamie Gorelick, a lawyer and ethics adviser for Ms Trump, detailed her new privileges and said she would follow the ethics rules that apply to government employees.

Ivanka Trump participates in a roundtable discussion on advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 13 February 2017 Credit: EPA

"Having an adult child of the president who is actively engaged in the work of the administration is new ground,” Mr Gorelick said.

"Our view is that the conservative approach is for Ivanka to voluntarily comply with the rules that would apply if she were a government employee, even though she is not."

Sources close to Ms Trump told Politico the first daughter saw nothing unusual with the arrangement and that it was a continuation of how she has worked alongside him for several years at the Trump Organisation and on the reality TV show The Apprentice.

Ms Trump's role has already come under scrutiny because there is little precedent for a member of the first family with this kind of influence.

Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Credit: Rex

There has been speculation that it was Ms Trump and Mr Kushner who persuaded the president not to rescind LGBT rights and, as more moderate voices on certain aspects of policy, have clashed with hard-liners such as Steve Bannon.

There are also suggestions that Ms Trump and Mr Kushner's orthodox Jewish faith is being exploited within the White House.

It was "no coincidence" that Mr Trump's anti-Muslim “travel ban” was announced on a Friday evening after Mr Kushner had left work and was observing Shabbat, sources told the New York Daily News.

A person with knowledge of Ms Trump's thinking, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations, told the Associated Press that she believes she can offer more independent perspective to her father by not serving as a White House staffer.

In a statement, she said: "I will continue to offer my father my candid advice and counsel, as I have for my entire life."

Federal anti-nepotism laws prevent relatives from being appointed to government positions. But the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel recently said the president's "special hiring authority" allowed him to appoint Mr Kushner to the West Wing staff.  Mr Gorelick noted the office also made clear that the president could consult family members as private citizens, arguing that this is what Ms Trump will be doing.

Profile | Ivanka Trump

The first daughter has sought to distance herself from the Trump Organisation and her lifestyle brand, which offers shoes, clothing and jewellery. She has removed herself from executive roles and will have a more hands-off approach to the brand - though she will still get certain information and will have the power to veto new deals if they raise ethical red flags.

Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who served as President George W. Bush's chief White House lawyer on ethics, said that Ms Trump is effectively working as a White House employee. He said that "means that she, like her husband, has to follow the rules. It's not a huge deal if she stays out of things that affect her financial interests."

Ivanka Trump's First Daughter style

 

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