Ivanka Trump takes official unpaid White House role

- President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump is joining the administration as a government employee, the White House said Wednesday.

Ms. Trump has been serving as the president's informal advisor, with an office in the West Wing, security clearance, and a seat at the table during official state functions, such as the March 17th visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The First Daughter's security clearance and role in official state events, however, raised questions of nepotism and conflict-of-interest concerns regarding Ms. Trump's other role as head of her own clothing business.

Watchdog groups including Democracy 21 sent a letter to the White House counsel Don McGahn on March 24th stating, "This arrangement appears designed to allow Ms. Trump to avoid the ethics, conflict-of-interest and other rules that apply to White House employees."

Ivanka Trump addressed the issue in a statement Wednesday.

"I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees," Ms. Trump's statement said.

As federal employees, she and her husband, the president's senior advisor, Jared Kushner have access to classified information.

Ethic rules, however, say they will have to abide by the following: no salary is allowed from outside sources, no gifts from foreign officials, and no participation in matters that could impact personal financial interests.

Some Republicans say they're glad to see Ms. Trump take such an active role.

"She is a very, very brilliant lady," said  Alameda County Republican Vice-Chair Roseann Slonsky-Breault, who adds that Ivanka Trump could help her father's image and policies.

"Her being there and talking about women and wanting to do things for women, I think it will also help President Trump," Slonsky-Brealt said.

Political experts say there is a precedent for family hires.

"Historically, family members have often been advisors to the president. One that comes to mind is a 35-year-old attorney named Robert F. Kennedy who became Attorney General and there was a lot of controversy at the time about John F. Kennedy naming his brother Robert Kennedy as Attorney General," said KTVU political analyst Brian Sobel.

Fred Wertheimer, president of the government watchdog group Democracy 21 and a co-writer of the letter to McGahn, said he commended Ivanka Trump for formalizing her status. "Democracy 21 praises Ms. Trump for her decision, which recognizes that it would have been wrong for her to function as a White House employee and not be subject to the same rules that apply to other White House employees," he said in a statement.

Ivanka Trump's attorney Jamie Gorelick said she will file the financial disclosures required of federal employees and will be bound by official ethics rules.

"Ivanka's decision reflects both her commitment to compliance with federal ethics standards and her openness to opposing points of view," Gorelick said.

Trump had already sought to distance herself from her business interests.

She continues to own her brand. But she has handed daily management to the company president and has set up a trust to provide further oversight. The business cannot make deals with any foreign state, and the trustees will confer with Gorelick over any new agreements. Ivanka Trump will also be able to veto proposed new transactions.

With the Trump Organization, Ivanka Trump has stepped down from a leadership role and will receive fixed payments rather than a share of the profits.

 

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