Why Ivanka Trump Attended The State Dinner, But None Of The President's Other Children Did
The guest list of the first state dinner of Donald Trump's presidency didn't feature many household names, but there's at least one you'll recognize on the list as reported by CNN: Ivanka Trump was at the state dinner up with her husband, Jared Kushner, and they were the only members of the Trump family besides the president and First Lady themselves who were there. But it turns out that this is actually pretty par for the course.
According to the National First Ladies' Library, first children usually don't get invites to state dinners, and it usually makes news when they do. For example, the Obama sisters showed up at one state dinner in 2016, and it sent the media into a frenzy over their dresses. The Bush twins, Barbara and Jenna, came only rarely, and their escorts always provoked gossip on whether there was a presidential wedding to look forward to (because, the Library notes, Jenna did once attend with the man who would become her husband). The Library also writes that Chelsea Clinton served as a co-host at a state dinner once, but it was a particularly big deal: the Millennium State Dinner, which took place on Dec. 31, 1999.
It would have been major news — and a major break with tradition — of all of the five Trump kids had shown up at the first Trump state dinner. But because there was only one on the invite list, why was it Ivanka?
It could have to do with Ivanka's position in her father's administration. The New York Times reported in March of 2017 that she would be taking on the role of an official White House advisor, thus joining Kushner as a federal employee and an official advisor to the president. According to CNN's published guest list, there are numerous other administration and government figures, so Ivanka and Jared's names don't exactly stand out from the crowd. John Bolton, the recently appointed National Security Advisor, is on the list with his wife, Gretchen, as is White House chief of staff John Kelly and his wife, Karen.
When grouped together with the other administration officials, it almost would have been more notable if Ivanka and Jared hadn't been invited. This statement also stands for the Trump kids that weren't invited — given how removed they are supposed to be from the administration, it would have been notable if they had been in attendance.
Barron and Tiffany Trump, the two youngest Trump kids, have so far largely stayed out of the spotlight. Donald Jr. and Eric have, on the other hand, often appeared in the news — but not because they're connected to the administration. While they're both very supportive of their father on Twitter and elsewhere, they are officially the ones in charge of the Trump Organization and thus unconnected to the administration.
This setup — Donald Trump resigning, Donald Jr. and Eric taking over — was the legal loophole of sorts that CNN Money said allowed the president to avoid some, but not all, ethics questions regarding his position as both president and owner of a big company. Ethics questions have still come up, like about how Trump is still benefitting from his business as president (as reported by the Washington Post) or about how Donald Jr. and Eric may have crossed some ethical boundaries with speeches. With that background, their presence at the state dinner could have raised unnecessary concerns.
Whoever assembled the guest list to the state dinner, then, didn't take any risks or draw any undue attention towards the Trump family. Ivanka and Jared accepted their invitations, and it's entirely likely that they'll have the chance to do so again.