The controversies of Donald Trump's administration have been rolling in pretty consistently for the last eight weeks, and a potential new one is just getting started right now. First daughter Ivanka Trump announced this week that she'll be moving into a West Wing office, which means something even more concerning: Ivanka's getting classified information for some pretty vague reasons, which raises serious concerns about the extent of her involvement in the executive branch.
The announcement of Ivanka's impending status bump broke Monday when her lawyer released a statement about her increasing role in the White House. “Ivanka will advise her father and assist on initiatives that are important to her. She will not be an employee, but will abide by the ethics restrictions applicable to employees,” Jamie Gorelick, Ivanka's attorney and ethics adviser, said in a statement to CBS News. Gorelick further explained:
This is an interesting change in tack from shortly after the election, when Donald Trump said that he was "not trying to get 'top level security clearance' for [his] children." According to NBC News, there's typically been no need for first families to have security clearance, because the president can choose to disclose information that he deems non-damaging to national security.
The decision now to apply for Ivanka's security clearance implies that her involvement in executive decisions is more extensive than the transition team had first imagined, so in a certain way, it's a good thing that she is getting the proper set-up to do the work that she was already doing.
However, there are still serious concerns about how Ivanka's security clearance will change presidential precedent. According to ClearanceJobs.com, Ivanka will have to fill out a standard Questionnaire for National Security Positions, which takes employment history, foreign travel, and family connections into account before awarding security clearance. So far, the White House hasn't released any details about how the process will be conducted differently from a regular security clearance, and whether the situation warrants a different protocol because the person being investigated is the president's daughter. The point of the questionnaire seems a bit moot once you write that your dad is the president, but the question seems to be how the process should be amended to maintain objectivity.
Furthermore, Ivanka's clearance seems to be one step further down the road toward a democracy with blurred lines. While the first family has typically played an important role in popular culture and national unity, the intentional inclusion of the president's family into the executive decision-making process is pretty uncharted water. Donald Trump was elected, not his entire family, and it's concerning to see people who have little vetting and less experience appointed to critical positions just because of their previous relationship with the president. Of course, it's unlikely that Ivanka poses any real threat to national security, but her West Wing involvement establishes a dangerous precedent that could easily be abused by someone with nefarious motives.
Ivanka and her family have revealed how much the country takes for granted in its most hallowed institution, and the biggest legacy of Trump's presidency may end up being more limitations on what the president can and can't do. For now, there doesn't seem to be much reason or avenue to prevent Ivanka from gaining security clearance — now the country has to play an anxiety-inducing waiting game to see if another scandal emerges out of this.