USA Politics First Look

Ivanka Trump gets West Wing office, access to classified information

Though she is not technically a government employee, first daughter Ivanka Trump is now working out of a West Wing office and will get access to classified information.

Ivanka Trump attends US President Trump's strategy and policy forum with US business leaders at the White House.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/File
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President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, will get an office in the White House’s West Wing, along with government-issued communications devices and access to classified information, giving new prominence to her background role as an advisor to the president.

Ms. Trump, whose husband, Jared Kushner, also serves as a senior advisor to the president, will not be paid for her work nor will she receive an official title, according to Jamie Gorelick, an attorney and ethics adviser for Ivanka. That means the decision skirts federal anti-nepotism laws preventing presidents from appointing relatives to paid government posts. But it does appear to set a new precedent for familial influence in the White House, given that neither one has prior experience in government – unlike, for instance, Robert Kennedy, appointed attorney general by his brother John F. Kennedy, or Hillary Clinton, who was tapped by Bill Clinton to lead health-care efforts.

Ms. Gorelick told the Associated Press that although Ms. Trump would not get an official role, she would follow ethics rules that apply to government employees.

"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," she said. "The White House Counsel's Office agrees with that approach."

She also noted that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel had made clear, when opining that the president’s “special hiring authority” allowed him to appoint son-in-law Mr. Kushner to his West Wing staff, that the president could consult family members as private citizens, as Ms. Trump would be doing.

Confirmation of the move comes a few days after the first daughter helped arrange a meeting on vocational training and workforce development between Mr. Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with chief executive officers from several American and German corporations. That meeting on Friday was the second such international workforce meeting organized by Ms. Trump, after another focusing on economic opportunities for women that came during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to the US in February.

Richard Painter, a chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, told the AP the move meant that Ms. Trump, "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," he added.

Those interests have already served as embers for controversy. After Ms. Trump’s fashion line was dropped by several department stores, Kellyanne Conway and Mr. Trump protested – even, in Ms. Conway’s case, issuing an advertisement for Ms. Trump’s products – stirring accusations that those protests amounted to serious improprieties.

Since then, Ms. Trump has handed over control of the day-to-day operations of her brands to the company president, set up a trust to oversee operations – run by her husband's siblings Joshua Kushner and Nicole Meyer – and barred the business from using her image in promotion. As part of her new role, the company will also be prohibited from doing deals with foreign states. 

This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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