President Donald Trump sent both his eldest daughter and his press secretary to PyeongChang, South Korea on Friday to represent the United States as the 2018 Winter Olympics wind down. But are Ivanka Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders friends? The two have been seen cheering on Team USA together from the stands.
While some media outlets have gone so far as to analyze Ivanka and Sanders' body language and facial expressions while at the Olympics, only those close to the two women know what the full extent of their friendship might be. However, I think it's safe to say the two likely enjoy a cordial working relationship at the very least.
While neither of the women have commented publicly on their relationship, Sanders has defended Ivanka in the press before. The White House press secretary criticized the media's treatment of Ivanka as "shameful" in an October interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. "If she didn't have the same last name, they would be celebrating her. They would be praising her," Sanders said. "Instead, they attack her, they shame her, and they belittle her. I think it's very shameful, and I think it's sad because she's such a good advocate for so many women."
Along with celebrating U.S Olympians in the Games' final events, Ivanka and Sanders are expected to represent the United States at the closing ceremony on Sunday. But while news that Ivanka would travel to PyeongChang to lead the presidential delegation at the Olympics didn't exactly catch anyone off guard — along with being Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka also serves as a senior adviser to the president — Sanders' presence has raised a few eyebrows.
A senior White House official told the Daily Mail that Sanders was included in the delegation because she is "a senior member of this administration" and "a trusted adviser to the president." However, it seems Sanders' gender may have also been a part of the decision. According to the Daily Mail, the Trump administration sought to send a female-focused delegation to the Games' closing ceremony. "Also Sarah's going as a female to help cheer on all of the female athletes and highlight the women's sports and success our female athletes have had at this year's Olympic games," the paper reported the White House official said.
Upon arriving in Seoul, Ivanka told reporters she felt it was "a great honor" to be in South Korea with the U.S. delegation. "We are very, very excited to attend the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, to cheer for Team USA, and to reaffirm our strong and enduring commitment with the people of the Republic of Korea," she said. In a separate statement, Ivanka echoed her father's commitment to a "maximum-pressure campaign to ensure the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized," the New York Times reported.
Neither Ivanka nor Sanders are expected to meet with anyone from the North Korean delegation while in PyeongChang. The two senior Trump administration officials are also not expected to attempt meetings with North Korean defectors as Vice President Mike Pence did during his own Olympic visit, the Times has reported. Pence had also reportedly attempted to meet with members of the North Korean delegation, but the pre-planned meeting fell through at the last minute. Pence's chief of staff old NBC News the North Korean delegation backed out after they'd become upset over the vice president's message about North Korea's human rights violations and nuclear program.
So while you're not likely to see Ivanka and Sanders meeting with Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, you can expect to see them decked out in Team USA gear as they watch the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony from the stands of the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium this Sunday.