What Does Special Assistant To The President Do? Ivanka Trump's Role Is Unprecedented
It wasn't long ago that the internet was freaking out that Ivanka Trump was getting an office in the White House. She was going to submit herself to the same ethics controls that paid employees underwent, but that was just to go above and beyond, her lawyer explained. Well, it appears that wasn't good enough for many in Washington and around the country, because now Ivanka is getting an official job title and position within the White House. And much like her husband, she's not getting paid. So, what does a "special assistant to the president" do? Ivanka is taking on the job.
In this case, the position will entail essentially what Ivanka announced when she was given the office. "I will continue to offer my father my candid advice and counsel, as I have for my entire life," Ivanka said at the time. With Wednesday's announcement, Hope Hicks had more to say, explaining the job title "affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously."
The title itself doesn't control what she will do. Instead, what policies or issues she'll focus on depends on her, President Trump, and the administration. During the campaign, child care and maternity leave were some of her main interests. It's also important to point out she's not the first special assistant. Trump has more, and Obama had some too.
This change comes after a letter that Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper sent to the Office of Government Ethics. They wrote:
Ms. Trump's increasing, albeit unspecified, White House role, her potential conflicts of interest, and her commitment to voluntarily comply with relevant ethics and conflict of interest laws have resulted in substantial confusion.
Evidently, Ivanka and her lawyer, Jamie S. Gorelick, decided that it would be better to satisfy the critics rather than differentiate between her voluntary ethics compliance and the mandatory one of government employees. In practice there's not a huge difference. "[Ivanka] will file the financial disclosure forms required of federal employees and be bound by the same ethics rules that she had planned to comply with voluntarily," Gorelick told The New York Times.
Perhaps in a perfect world, none of Trump's family members would be involved in running the country, but this official role is the best solution. It allows for some oversight of potential conflicts of interest and avoids the confusion that Warren and Carper mentioned.
Plus, it won't have any effect on Ivanka's day-to-day role. That's still up to her and President Trump.