Ivanka and Jared find their limits in Trump’s White House – Politico
By one measurement, last week was a good one for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law had been double-teaming for weeks to persuade him to oust chief of staff Reince Priebus, pushing for a new chief who could “professionalize the West Wing,” according to multiple White House officials. On Friday, Trump finally announced he’d replace Priebus with John Kelly, his secretary of Homeland Security, starting Monday.
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That victory followed Trump’s appointment a week earlier of financier Anthony Scaramucci, a campaign surrogate and donor, as communications director, a move the couple also strongly supported.
But if Ivanka Trump and Kushner, socially liberal former Democratic donors, remain influential voices with Trump on personnel decisions, they have so far had little effect on his policies.
Last week they were blindsided by the president’s tweet saying he planned to ban transgender people from serving in the military, according to several White House aides, a major coup for conservatives who had been quietly lobbying the administration on the issue for months.
White House officials said the first daughter was surprised by her father’s posts; in the past, Trump has been a supporter of gay rights. Ivanka Trump, according to these officials, learned of the decision when she saw her father’s tweet on her phone.
The decree came less than a month after the first daughter tweeted, in honor of Pride Month: “I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy.” And it spurred another wave of liberal rage directed at Ivanka Trump.
For all the talk of a White House war between New York City liberals and traditionalist conservatives, it was the latest example of the limited influence the moderates have been able to wield on policy.
Six months ago, few would have thought the president would have been circumventing his daughter to deliver victories to fiscal and social conservatives—but that’s precisely what happened with the transgender military ban, which the Pentagon has put on hold pending review.
Now, as Ivanka Trump runs up against some of limits of her power in the White House, she appears to be narrowing her objectives—and disappointing those progressives who had pinned their hopes on the president’s family members exerting more of a moderating influence on his presidency.
“Actions speak louder than words,” said Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the nonprofit Human Rights Campaign. “Either Ivanka is ineffective in her advocacy within the building, or her voice doesn’t matter to the president as much as she hopes it does.”
Ivanka Trump has had some victories. While she lost out on persuading her father not to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, she had much more success in limiting a religious liberties executive order to abortion and procreation issues, cutting out many other possibilities that would have angered the LGBT community.
“She’s in there doing what she can,” said R. Couri Hay, a publicist and a longtime friend of the Trump family. “It’s unrealistic, unfair and cruel to expect her to change climate policy and pre-K and women’s issues in six months.”
But Ivanka Trump — who once met with Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards to discuss a needle-threading way to potentially fund the organization — is staking out her reputation on getting a child care tax credit passed in a Republican Congress as part of tax reform, and fighting for paid family leave to be included in the budget.
She has told allies that she wants to be held accountable solely on those issues she is actively working on — uphill battles that will count as major victories if she is successful — and the success of a World Bank fund she helped start, geared at helping female entrepreneurs gain access to capital. She has also said she wants to make ending human trafficking a White House priority.
Kushner, for his part, remains focused on projects that are peripheral to the White House’s main domestic agenda, like introducing technological innovations to the federal government. In the first six months of the administration, he has steered clear of the legislative battles that have been the meat of the work of Trump’s policy shop, focusing instead on relations with Mexico, China, Canada and the Middle East.
Ivanka Trump has explained to critics that she doesn’t want to ruin her credibility with Republicans, whose support she will need, by being perceived as what she sometimes refers to as a “super-lib” and expressing her personal disagreement with the administration’s most conservative policies.
Meanwhile, she desperately wants to lower expectations of what she can achieve in an administration where she views herself as one person on a large team — even though other White House officials said she still has access to the president whenever she desires it. Allies have bucked up her spirits by telling her that her legacy will look better in hindsight if she is successful in moving the needle on her stated issues. And as she navigates the unique role of working-daughter-in-the-White House, she is reading Eleanor Roosevelt’s biography for guidance and inspiration.
Both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner declined to comment for this story.