For the entirety of the past 14 months, the Trump White House has been a virtual revolving door.
Starting with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned just a few weeks after Donald Trump took the oath of office, roughly three-dozen senior administration officials have resigned or been fired, resulting in an unprecedented amount of turnover. Of course, there has been some personnel consistency for Donald Trump in the form of his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump.
As the long list of fired or resigned employees indicates, it’s been anything but smooth sailing for the Trump administration, and Ivanka has been no exception. Recently, Ivanka took offense to being asked by NBC’s Peter Alexander if she believed all the women who have stepped forward to accuse her father of sexual misconduct. At last count, at least 22 women have made accusations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump, dating all the way back to the 1970s.
The President, as we know, has vehemently denied all of the accusations, calling the women liars. Meanwhile, when Alexander asked Ivanka if she believed the women who have accused her father, she ducked the question. Instead of giving an honest answer, she attacked Alexander for asking the question in the first place.
“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.”
— Ivanka Trump
Ivanka’s response created a strong reaction. Some called her out while others showed unwavering support for her, which begs the question: should Ivanka Trump be able to dodge tough questions about her father?
Ivanka Has A Point
From Ivanka’s perspective, what was she supposed to say in response to Alexander’s question? Did Alexander actually think he could get Ivanka to jump ship and express a viewpoint contrary to her father’s stance? Even though Ivanka has publicly expressed support for the #MeToo movement, she has remained fiercely loyal to her father, even if the accusations against Trump and the #MeToo movement are in direct conflict with one another.
There’s also little precedent for the daughter of someone accused of sexual misconduct being asked to comment on the accusations. Often times, the spouses of those individuals are put in front of a camera and asked about the alleged transgressions. But rarely are the kids of the accused dragged into the mess, especially when you consider the close relationship that often exists between fathers and daughters. The President’s relationship with first-daughter Ivanka, by all accounts, qualifies as a close relationship.
In further defense of Ivanka, former first daughter Chelsea Clinton was put in a similar position while campaigning for her mother in 2008. When asked about her mother’s credibility being tied to former President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, Chelsea replied that it was “none of your business.” In saying that, Chelsea avoided the topic and refused to throw her father under the bus, much like Ivanka.
No Special Treatment
While there is validity in Ivanka dismissing Alexander’s question as “inappropriate,” it’s important to remember that she wasn’t giving the interview from the perspective of the first daughter. She was doing so as a senior adviser to the President. In that sense, the question was fair game.
The children of Presidents rarely give interviews, and if they do, they typically aren’t asked about policy decisions or events pertaining to the administration. It’s not the job of the first daughter to give such interviews. However, when the first daughter is also a senior advisor to the President with an office in the White House, the notion of being the first-daughter goes out the window.
Ivanka doesn’t get to pick and choose when she can play the first daughter card to duck a tough question. If the case of Chelsea Clinton, she was just a daughter helping her mother campaign, not someone representing the U.S. government in an official capacity, creating an important distinction between her and Ivanka Trump.
If Ivanka wants to be an advisor to her father in an official capacity, she has to forget that she’s also the first daughter. She has to give up any special treatment that comes with being the first daughter. She has to acknowledge that it’s the job of a reporter like Alexander to ask tough questions and her job as an administration official to answer tough questions. In that sense, Ivanka’s response to Alexander’s question was no different from her father shouting “fake news!” every time someone says something he doesn’t like.
What Side Is Right?
Even for those who have steadfastly supported Ivanka and the entire Trump administration don’t have much of a leg to stand on in this instance. If the United States truly has a free press, then any question posed to a White House official about the President or his actions should be fair game. That’s what it means to have a free press.
Working in the White House means working at the highest level of government. It’s a place where you have to solve difficult problems and answer difficult questions. It’s not a place where you take your daughter to work just for fun. If Ivanka Trump is going to work in the White House in an official capacity, she can’t be allowed to weasel her way out of tough questions. As long as she holds the position, she’s not the first daughter, she’s a senior advisor to the President and there’s no reason for her to get a pass on answering any question.