If it surprised you to see Ivanka Trump sat at Angela Merkel's side when the German chancellor visited the White House last week, it won't shock you next time. Get ready to see much more of the first daughter during the next four years, whether there are political leaders in the house or it's just your typical Tuesday. She's bound to be around more from here on out; Ivanka Trump is getting her own office in the White House. That may strike you as odd, but it's probably a good thing.
Now hear me out. There's not a lot of precedent to go off here. Generally presidents don't appoint their adult children to top jobs in the administration or the White House. In fact, the most similar situation we had seen thus far was with Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to President Trump but chose to forego a salary.
His hiring raised a lot of ethical questions that have for now been laid to rest by the Department of Justice. "In choosing his personal staff, the President enjoys an unusual degree of freedom, which Congress found suitable to the demands of his office," an deputy assistant attorney general wrote at the time. The same concerns apply to Ivanka.
It's good that she's getting an office. Thus far, her influence has been from the outside in, and any involvement has been unofficial. Now should anything untoward occur, Ivanka will officially have a link to the presidency (even if it's just an office). And, thanks to this move, that's even less likely to happen. Ivanka has voluntarily subjected herself to the same ethics rules as any White House hire.
"While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees," Ivanka said in a statement. Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, went further in explaining the situation to Politico on Monday: "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."
Thus, by giving Ivanka an office (not even a title or pay), we have safeguards against any potential misconduct, even accidental. As a part of her compliance with the ethics rules, Ivanka is divesting from "common stock, tech investments, investment funds," for example.
The one problem remains to be her business — much like the Trump Organization remains complicated for the president. Because of current licensing arrangements, Ivanka cannot shut down her brand, nor would it make sense to sell it, Gorelick explained, because the next owner could create the same conflicts. "The one thing I would like to be clear on: we don’t believe it eliminates conflicts in every way,” Gorelick told Politico. “She has the conflicts that derive from the ownership of this brand. We’re trying to minimize those to the extent possible."
She will no longer be running the company and has transferred her ownership into a trust. Her brother-in-law Josh Kushner and sister-in-law Nicole Meyer (in typical Trump familiar fashion) will take control of the trust. Perhaps not perfect, but a step in the right direction.
So if we get all this in exchange for one room in the White House, it sounds like a fair trade.