Ivanka Trump:

Since Don­ald Trump was in­au­gu­rated as US Pres­i­dent, there has been one woman beam­ing with con­fi­dence be­side him – and it's not Me­la­nia, his wife. Is Trump's daugh­ter, Ivanka, go­ing to be the sur­ro­gate First Lady, asks Nick Bryant.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - Contents - AWW Nick Bryant is the BBC’s New York and United Na­tions correspondent.

Amer­ica’s real First Lady takes charge

As Don­ald Trump ut­tered the 35 words that made him the most pow­er­ful man in the world, his wife, Me­la­nia, per­formed the tra­di­tional First Lady role of cradling the two Bi­bles on which her hus­band had placed his hand and of gaz­ing at him ad­mir­ingly as he re­cited the pres­i­den­tial oath of of­fice. Al­though she looked stag­ger­ingly beau­ti­ful in a pow­der-blue dress that re­called the style of Jackie Kennedy’s in­au­gu­ral out­fit and per­formed her role with grace and style, it didn’t ap­pear that the Slove­nian-born for­mer su­per­model truly wanted to be there. In the midst of this in­au­gu­ral show, she seemed some­what per­plexed by this new re­al­ity.

More con­fi­dent on the stage that day was the younger woman seated in the row be­hind, re­s­plen­dent in a white pantsuit de­signed by Os­car de la Renta, which ex­uded glam­our and power.

Peer­ing down from my perch in the press stand just a few me­tres away, as the 21-gun sa­lute echoed around the US Capi­tol and the mil­i­tary band thumped out Hail to the Chief,

I felt as if Ivanka Marie Trump had just be­come the new First Lady.

Eye-catch­ing pres­ence

From the mo­ment the Pres­i­dent’s el­dest daugh­ter had set foot in Wash­ing­ton the pre­vi­ous day, on board a plane em­bla­zoned with the words “United States of Amer­ica” rather than the more usual “Trump”, she had been an eye-catch­ing

pres­ence. While the other women in the Trump fam­ily had worn black to visit the tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier at the Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery, that most sa­cred of shrines, she had worn bold green. Her In­sta­gram feed, whether in­ten­tion­ally or not, also evoked the spirit of John F. Kennedy’s Camelot. Not long af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion, she posted pic­tures from in­side the White House of her 10-month-old tod­dler, Theodore, crawl­ing for the first time in a video rem­i­nis­cent of the black-and-white pho­to­graphs of John Jnr play­ing un­der JFK’s desk in the Oval Of­fice.

Af­ter that in­au­gu­ral week­end, Me­la­nia headed back to Man­hat­tan with her 10-yearold son, Bar­ron, to re­sume their lives in Trump Tower. Ivanka stayed in Wash­ing­ton, her new home. Less than two weeks later, when the new Com­man­der-in-Chief trav­elled to a mil­i­tary base in Delaware to per­form the solemn task of greet­ing the cas­ket con­tain­ing the body of a Navy Seal killed dur­ing a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in Ye­men, Ivanka was at his side as he boarded the Ma­rine One he­li­copter on the South Lawn of the White House. It was the surest sign yet that the First Daugh­ter had as­sumed the role of sur­ro­gate First Lady.

Her rise is not a sin­gu­lar achieve­ment.

With Me­la­nia in New York and the Oba­mas in re­tire­ment, the 35-year-old busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive has also be­come part of the most dom­i­nant power cou­ple in Wash­ing­ton, if not the world. Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, her hus­band, the prop­erty ty­coon Jared Kush­ner, rose to be­come her fa­ther’s most trusted ad­viser, wield­ing far more in­flu­ence than ei­ther of Trump’s sons, Don­ald Jnr or Eric. Jared was soon sworn in as a White House se­nior ad­vi­sor and given an of­fice of his own in the West Wing. The cou­ple has also bought some Wash­ing­ton real estate, a $5.5-mil­lion res­i­dence in an ex­clu­sive neigh­bour­hood of the cap­i­tal, a three-minute walk from the Oba­mas’ new home.

In their new abode, the cou­ple has al­ready started host­ing “work­ing din­ner par­ties”, as they are called, bring­ing to­gether the chief ex­ec­u­tives of mas­sive com­pa­nies such as Wal­mart and Gen­eral Mo­tors in an at­tempt to push Ivanka’s pet projects – women’s em­pow­er­ment in the work­place and paid ma­ter­nity leave.

And, be­fore leav­ing New York, she hosted a glitzy gath­er­ing at Wendi Deng Mur­doch’s Fifth Av­enue pent­house, at­tended by fe­male cor­po­rate chiefs, as well as fash­ion fig­ures such as Tory Burch and Christy Turling­ton. Th­ese soirées are in line with the theme of Ivanka’s new book, Women Who Work: Rewrit­ing the Rules for Suc­cess.

Daugh­ters are said to oc­cupy a spe­cial place in their fa­thers’ hearts, but the phrase “Daddy’s Girl” seems in­ad­e­quate to de­scribe Don­ald Trump’s fond­ness for Ivanka. Fa­mously and cringe­worthily, he even once said that he might date her if she wasn’t his daugh­ter. Yet he is also the ob­ject of her de­vo­tion. To be at his side in Wash­ing­ton, she has not only left be­hind her Man­hat­tan friends – the US cap­i­tal is a drowsy town by com­par­i­son – but also the head­quar­ters of her epony­mous cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories brand, Ivanka Trump. Her prox­im­ity to power has al­ready raised eye­brows, as well as con­cerns about con­flicts of in­ter­est. When Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe vis­ited Trump Tower be­fore

Her In­sta­gram feed evoked JFK’s Camelot.

Christ­mas, Ivanka con­tro­ver­sially sat in on the meet­ing. In a phone con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Ar­gentina’s Pres­i­dent Mauri­cio Macri and the Pres­i­dent-elect, she also joined the call – as the Trumps were bat­tling to get ap­proval for a realestate pro­ject in Ar­gen­tine cap­i­tal, Buenos Aires.

When the Trump fam­ily ap­peared with Don­ald on 60 Min­utes, in his first tele­vi­sion in­ter­view as Pres­i­dent-elect, Ivanka wore a $10,000 bracelet from her own range, which her staff tried to pro­mote on­line the fol­low­ing day with a screen grab from the show.

Be­cause of her close­ness to her fa­ther, she has be­come a tar­get of pro­test­ers. The #GrabYourWal­let cam­paign has called for a boy­cott of her fash­ion brand – the depart­ment store Nord­strom has al­ready stopped sell­ing it – while a Dear Ivanka In­sta­gram ac­count pub­lishes pho­tos of the for­mer model along­side mes­sages from those who fear her fa­ther.

“Dear Ivanka, I’m an Amer­i­can Mus­lim and I was at­tacked on the sub­way,” reads one post. “Dear Ivanka” can­dlelit vig­ils have also been held out­side her apart­ment build­ing in the Nolita neigh­bour­hood of Man­hat­tan. When Ivanka posted a pic­ture of her­self and Jared – him in black-tie, her in a sil­ver ball gown – at the very mo­ment protests had erupted around the coun­try in fury at the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s travel ban on arrivals from seven ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim coun­tries, she was ridiculed on­line. One post showed a child refugee cow­er­ing in a sil­ver com­fort blan­ket and asked who wore the colour bet­ter.

Pres­i­dent Ivanka Trump?

Yet there are crit­ics of the new Pres­i­dent who think Ivanka’s move to Wash­ing­ton is a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment be­cause she could end up be­ing a mod­er­at­ing in­flu­ence on her fa­ther. A one-time bestie of Chelsea Clin­ton, she do­nated to Hil­lary Clin­ton’s first cam­paign for the pres­i­dency, when the for­mer First Lady lost out to Barack Obama in the race for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion in 2008.

And dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion, Ivanka ar­ranged for her fa­ther to meet Al Gore, the for­mer Vice-Pres­i­dent and cli­mate change ac­tivist. While her fa­ther has writ­ten off man-made global warm­ing as a hoax in­vented by the Chi­nese, she is known to be a com­mit­ted en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, with some even speak­ing of her as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s un­of­fi­cial “Cli­mate Tsar”.

Ivanka and Jared have also been cred­ited with per­suad­ing the Pres­i­dent not to is­sue an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that would have re­moved some of the pro­tec­tions against dis­crim­i­na­tion that the LGBTQ com­mu­nity en­joys.

Does she have pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions of her own? It’s tempt­ing to cast Ivanka as a mod­ern-day Eva Peron, the daz­zling wife of the 1950s Ar­gen­tine Pres­i­dent Juan Peron, who was beloved by the work­ing classes and eyed high of­fice her­self. Cer­tainly, there are phys­i­cal sim­i­lar­i­ties, but be­fore her fa­ther ran for the pres­i­dency, Ivanka was not in­volved in con­ser­va­tive US pol­i­tics. “Like many of my fel­low mil­len­ni­als,” she con­fessed in a speech be­fore the Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion last year, “I do not con­sider my­self cat­e­gor­i­cally Repub­li­can or Demo­crat.”

Like Michelle Obama, Ivanka doesn’t seem to have any great ap­petite for the cut and thrust of Amer­ica’s in­creas­ingly vi­cious pol­i­tics. Be­sides, her el­der brother, Don­ald

Jnr, looks more like the po­lit­i­cal heir, not least be­cause his con­ser­va­tive speeches echo those of his fa­ther. By con­trast, Ivanka’s pub­lic re­marks al­ways sound more mod­er­ate.

Doubt­less, Me­la­nia will reap­pear for the great set-piece events of the pres­i­dency, such as the an­nual State of the Union ad­dress on Capi­tol

Hill and the up­com­ing state visit to the United King­dom, when the Trumps will be hosted by the Queen. Yet it does look in­creas­ingly likely that Ivanka will per­form some of the tra­di­tional, day-to-day First Lady roles. Her fans will talk of the rise and rise of Ivanka, the Princess in the US’ new­est po­lit­i­cal royal fam­ily, but her crit­ics will view her in a very dif­fer­ent light – as the beau­ti­ful face of an ugly ad­min­is­tra­tion.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sin­gles out Ivanka at his in­au­gu­ra­tion on Jan­uary 20, 2017. RIGHT: With hus­band Jared and their chil­dren (from left) Ara­bella, Joseph and Theodore, tellingly pho­tographed at Blair House, across the road from the White House.

Pres­i­dent Trump and Ivanka tak­ing Ma­rine One from the White House. BE­LOW: Ivanka and Jared at the Free­dom Ball, af­ter her fa­ther’s in­au­gu­ra­tion.

BE­LOW: Ivanka in­tro­duces her fa­ther at an event dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2016. BOT­TOM: “Dear Ivanka” pro­test­ers out­side her apart­ment in New York.

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