For some reason, we Americans seem to have convinced ourselves that Donald Trump's oldest daughter, Ivanka, is a beacon of hope who may be able to ensure that her father will make reasonable choices as president. However, when The New York Times reported Sunday that Ivanka met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and her father while her company was closing in on a Japanese licensing deal, it became clearer than ever that she is, at her core, her father's daughter. Moreover, the news should make us rethink how much faith we should put in Ivanka.
According to The New York Times report, Ivanka Trump's company is closing in on a licensing agreement with Sanei International, a Japanese clothing company. "The largest shareholder of Sanei’s parent company is the Development Bank of Japan, which is wholly owned by the Japanese government," The New York Times noted. Trump's company told the publication that this deal has been under discussion for around two years.
The timing of the Japanese deal is extremely inappropriate, to say the least. That Ivanka would reportedly attend a meeting with her father in his capacity as the president-elect of the United States with a foreign head of government, while her own company is working out a business deal with a company in said head of government's country (a company in which that foreign government actually invests), suggests that the Trump family may very well bite its thumb at the idea that the American president should keep his (and his family's) business matters separate from the functions of the White House.
The above tweet was written as a joke shortly after news broke that Ivanka had attended the meeting. In light of the recent confirmation that she has developing business matters in Japan, though, it seems potentially and uncomfortably prophetic.
To add another layer of concern to this potentially messy ethical quandary is the fact that the president-elect has said he'd resolve potential conflicts of interest with his business by handing over the Trump Organization fully to his children, including Ivanka.
In the past, Trump has said he will leave his businesses in a "blind" trust under the care of his children during his time as president. These trusts are contingent on being managed by someone who keeps asset information completely secret from the trustor, meaning that Ivanka and her brothers would essentially "promise not to tell" their father information about the family businesses. If this seems like a terrible setup, that's because it is. Trump could only be considered truly independent from his businesses if all of his assets were in a trust that was actually blind (i.e. not managed by his children) or if he sold them off entirely. Both of which seem unlikely to happen.
This latest report makes me wonder why so many of us still had faith in Ivanka. After all, if she does wield as much influence over her father as reports have said — Politico called her "the quiet power behind the Trump throne" — she certainly hasn't used it for nearly enough good. She hasn't managed to get her father to apologize for insulting a Gold Star family or mocking a reporter for his disability. She hasn't managed to dissuade him from appointing Steve Bannon, who proudly made Breitbart News into a "platform for the alt-right." And there is no indication she has persuaded her father to pay more attention to intelligence briefings, to which he has reportedly given short shrift.
I've given up hope that Ivanka will provide her father's administration with a much-needed dose of common sense. Ultimately, this latest report is a major indicator to me that Ivanka Trump cannot be trusted to manage a conflict of interest any better than her father.