White House

Ivanka Trump is not looking to be a diplomat, West Wing aides say

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un meet at the Korean Demilitarized Zone

US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shook hands across the border at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in an historic photo-op as Trump seeks to make a legacy-defining nuclear deal with the North.
Up Next
US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shook hands across the border at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in an historic photo-op as Trump seeks to make a legacy-defining nuclear deal with the North.

Ivanka Trump created a buzz last week over her participation in the Group of 20 summit and talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, raising questions in Washington about whether the first daughter is eyeing a broader diplomatic role.

But four administration officials with knowledge of Ivanka Trump’s thinking said she has no designs on another title.

President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser has focused her work at the White House on women’s empowerment – and was invited, according to her aides, to speak on that very topic on the sidelines of G-20 in Osaka last week.

But her public remarks and media engagements extended well beyond the issue of women’s empowerment.

She offered a video readout of the president’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shared by the White House, and attended closed-door negotiations over Iran and North Korea.

Administration officials pushed back against the suggestion that her participation in official events in Japan and Korea were an orchestrated effort to elevate her profile, or to test her diplomatic abilities.

One administration official said that Ivanka Trump “is going to stay as the president’s senior adviser in the White House for the foreseeable future.”

“This was an event that literally the prime minister of Japan pulled together as a side thing at the G-20, and specifically asked her to speak,” the official continued, referencing a conversation caught on video with world leaders that was widely criticized on social media. “She’s been taking high-profile trips abroad for two years.”

She has been serving as an informal envoy for some time. She visited India in November 2017 to lead a U.S. delegation to a global summit on entrepreneurship – also a policy priority of hers – and visited South Korea to lead another U.S. delegation to the winter Olympics in PyeongChang. She toured Africa in April to promote women’s empowerment.

“As a senior advisor to the president, Ivanka has been at the last two G-20’s and participated in numerous bilats and meetings on behalf of the White House to advance U.S. efforts on women’s empowerment and build strategic relationships with world leaders on these critical issues,” White House Deputy Director of Communications Jessica Ditto told McClatchy. “Women’s empowerment is central to the president’s National Security and Women’s Peace and Security Strategies, and Ivanka has helped elevate this critical issue as a central focus on the world stage.”

A second administration official pointed out that given her past trips abroad and her role as a trusted confidante to her father, she had already met the leaders she had interacted with on this most recent trip.

But if the first daughter has definitively ruled out a formal diplomatic role in the administration, at least one person has not.

“I even thought of Ivanka for the World Bank,” Trump told the Atlantic last month. “She’s a natural diplomat,” Trump said. “She would’ve been great at the United Nations.”

Michael Wilner joined McClatchy as its White House correspondent in 2019. He previously served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post, where he led coverage of the Iran nuclear talks, the Syrian refugee crisis and the 2016 US presidential campaign. Wilner holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is a native of New York City.
  Comments