In March, Ivanka Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attended an event at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum aimed at encouraging young girls' interest in STEM. According to documents from the Education Department, that hour-and-a-half-long event required the coordination of a small troop of White House employees to set up Trump's attendance.
The documents, obtained by the organization American Oversight through the Freedom of Information Act and shared with Newsweek, detailed just how much effort went into arranging the first daughter's appearance at the "Getting Excited About STEM" event on March 28. At least 21 employees and about 150 email correspondences were involved in organizing Trump's attendance. High-ranking staff at the Education Department were "happy to oblige," according to Newsweek. There, Trump went on a tour of the museum with DeVos and introduced the movie Hidden Figures to local schoolchildren in attendance.
The documents reportedly detail how DeVos had been angling to connect with Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, since the day she was barely confirmed as education secretary. On March 1, Trump used her personal email to reach out to DeVos' office, and the two maintained an ongoing correspondence to set up a meeting.
Eventually, Trump's chief of staff, Julie Radford, emailed DeVos' office expressing her interest in joining the March event at the Air and Space Museum.
"Ivanka would love to come by the event and deliver a few brief remarks highlighting her support for STEM efforts and thanking Secretary DeVos for her leadership in this area," Radford reportedly wrote.
The event took place even before Trump was officially given the title of assistant to the president. (She was named an official government employee the next day, however.) The documents seen by Newsweek provide a glimpse into how much officials bent over backward to accommodate her requests, even as first daughter, to explore her interest in administration-related issues.
When Donald Trump was elected, many spoke of how his eldest daughter would be a moderating force, so to speak, on his volatile impulses. But following the backlash against his policies in the early months of his presidency — including withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, the ban on transgender people serving in the military, and her own support for rolling back a rule aimed at closing the gender wage gap — Trump has stressed that people have "unrealistic expectations" of her ability to influence her father.
"That my presence in and of itself would carry so much weight with my father that he would abandon his core values and the agenda that the American people voted for when they elected him," she said in September. "It’s not going to happen. To those critics, shy of turning my father into a liberal, I’d be a failure to them.”
But it has become quite clear just how much influence she does wield, if not over her father, then at least in the White House. According to Newsweek, Trump's staff vetted invitations to the event at the Air and Space Museum, looked over seating charts, and inquired whether it would be open to the press or not. Her employees also reportedly asked DeVos' office about the education secretary's "social media language" for Snapchat posts in which she engaged with "young people."
It's likely that the first daughter's office in her capacity as a government employee has become more streamlined and organized, though it's unclear how many people work directly in her office. With her still-new role as White House employee, it's evident that Trump hasn't let go of her carefully crafted image to the public.