A seat at the ta­ble

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY ABBY PHILLIP abby.phillip@wash­post.com Michael Birn­baum con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Pres­i­dent Trump’s daugh­ter Ivanka filled in for her fa­ther at a ta­ble of world lead­ers dur­ing the Group of 20 sum­mit.

hamburg — Ivanka Trump was dep­u­tized to fill in for her fa­ther at a ta­ble of world lead­ers at the Group of 20 sum­mit on Satur­day, reignit­ing ques­tions about the un­ortho­dox mix­ing of fam­ily and gov­ern­ment in Pres­i­dent Trump’s White House.

The mo­ment, cap­tured in a pix­e­lated photo by a mem­ber of Rus­sia’s del­e­ga­tion, seemed to per­fectly cap­ture the scope of the first daugh­ter’s ex­pan­sive in­flu­ence in Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. But it drew sharp crit­i­cism by some who say that the move demon­strates Trump’s flout­ing of demo­cratic norms against such fa­mil­ial ar­range­ments as well-es­tab­lished diplo­matic pro­to­cols.

For­mer NATO am­bas­sador Ni­cholas Burns, who served as a diplo­mat un­der Pres­i­dents Bill Clin­ton and Ge­orge W. Bush, said the in­ci­dent was a breach of pro­to­cols for such sum­mits. Those tra­di­tions are in­tended to send a clear mes­sage to world lead­ers about who has power in the gov­ern­ment.

Burns said in his ex­pe­ri­ence at sum­mits, the sec­re­tary of state would take the pres­i­dent’s place at the ta­ble.

“This is a group of the 20 most pow­er­ful lead­ers in the world in the 20 most pow­er­ful coun­tries in the world,” Burns said. “It con­veys that im­pres­sion and we are a democ­racy and that’s also im­por­tant here.”

“Author­ity is not con­ferred upon fam­ily mem­bers be­cause of the pres­i­dent’s po­si­tion,” he added.

Trump and other world lead­ers of the G-20 sat around a mas­sive ta­ble for a work­ing ses­sion on “Part­ner­ship With Africa, Mi­gra­tion and Health” when Ivanka re­lieved her fa­ther, who had to leave the room for ad­di­tional meet­ings. The move placed her squarely be­tween Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

“Yes, it stuck out,” said a se­nior Euro­pean of­fi­cial who took part in the G-20 talks and who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity to speak can­didly. “The very fact that his daugh­ter is se­nior ad­viser smacks of the kind of nepo­tism not seen since John F. Kennedy named Robert F. Kennedy as at­tor­ney gen­eral.”

Some crit­ics on­line com­pared Ivanka Trump’s pres­ence at the ta­ble to a “ba­nana repub­lic” and ar­gued that she is both “un­elected” and “un­qual­i­fied” to step into a role usu­ally filled by of­fi­cials with pol­icy ex­per­tise.

A White House of­fi­cial said that the topic of con­ver­sa­tion at that point in the meet­ing had shifted into one area of fo­cus for Ivanka Trump: sup­port­ing fe­male en­trepreneurs in Africa.

“Ivanka was sit­ting in the back and then briefly joined the main ta­ble when the pres­i­dent had to step out,” the of­fi­cial said, who was not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about the meet­ing. “When other lead­ers stepped out, their seats were also briefly filled by oth­ers.”

Trump’s pres­ence was un­usual given that gov­ern­ment min­is­ters or se­nior of­fi­cials are typ­i­cally the ones called to stand in for heads of state at such ses­sions.

Trump, on the other hand, is both the pres­i­dent’s daugh­ter and a White House aide with the ti­tle of “as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent.”

Ear­lier on Satur­day, Trump and her fa­ther an­nounced the United States’ $50 mil­lion com­mit­ment to a new World Bank fund ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing fe­male en­trepreneurs in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

This was not the first sum­mit meet­ing that she has par­tic­i­pated in. On Thurs­day, she and her hus­band, Jared Kush­ner, an­other Trump ad­viser, joined the pres­i­dent at a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, a White House of­fi­cial con­firmed. Kush­ner also par­tic­i­pated in Trump’s bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto on Fri­day.

Asked at a news con­fer­ence about Ivanka Trump’s pres­ence at the ta­ble Satur­day, Merkel did not weigh in on whether it was ap­pro­pri­ate: “The del­e­ga­tions them­selves de­cide, should the pres­i­dent not be present for a meet­ing, who will take the chair, and Ivanka Trump was part of the Amer­i­can del­e­ga­tion.”

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