It may be time for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to take a page from the Hope Hicks playbook and go home to New York.
With more than a year of White House service, Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law outlasted a host of other high-profile advisers, including Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Sebastian Gorka and Sean Spicer. They could even take some comfort in what seems to be an unshakeable (some might say illogical) belief that they served the President and country better than everyone who has already exited.
However, with Ivanka Trump locked in combat with Chief of Staff John Kelly and Kushner under fire for everything from his downgraded security clearance to loans his businesses reportedly got after White House meetings, both now seem to be more trouble than they are worth. They should consider following recently resigned communications chief Hope Hicks out the door of the West Wing.
Like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Hicks was little qualified for her position. Her relevant experience, before the campaign, was being in the employ of Ivanka’s fashion business. To her credit, she grew into her campaign role, and her job at the White House, and — at least until her testimony to the House Intelligence Committee this week — obeyed the first rule of Trump Club, which forbids bringing bad press upon the boss.
An ally of the President’s told CNN that Donald Trump berated Hicks for her testimony, describing her as his “last emotional crutch.” Between that report and Trump’s insulting and humiliating treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and congressional Republicans this week, it’s no wonder that many are asking why anyone would work in this White House at all.
Hicks, for much of her tenure, benefited from the fact that while the President trusted her like a daughter, she wasn’t actually related to him. This status meant she at least had not been subjected to the “Trump way” since childhood.
Hicks, unlike Ivanka Trump, did not as a schoolgirl have to cope with tabloid headlines like “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had” splashed on the cover of the New York Post next to a photo of her father, describing his exploits with then-mistress, later-wife Marla Maples.
It could not have been easy, even as an adult during the 2016 campaign and the first years of the Trump presidency, for Ivanka Trump to endure wall-to-wall press coverage of her father’s scandals. It was relentless: the “Access Hollywood” tape, accusations of sexual misconduct lodged against her father by multiple women, and allegations of liaisons with a porn star and a Playboy model.
This record of scandals, which no daughter should have to accommodate, was undoubtedly on her mind when she bristled as an interviewer recently asked her about accusations of sexual misconduct against her father. “Inappropriate” was what she called the question, but she also offered a dutiful statement in support of him. “I believe my father. I know my father. So I think I have a right as a daughter to believe my father.”
Only a cold heart would lack empathy for Ivanka’s predicament. Only a willfully resistant mind would fail to see that she brought it upon herself by taking on a White House role for which she was completely unprepared.
Had she been just a daughter, her indignation would have been easier to accept. However, for some reason she deemed herself qualified, despite no prior relevant experience, to accept a position as adviser to the President. As such, she has to have a better answer to this question than “I know my father.”
The question to ask here is: What has America, especially the women and children for whom she has cast herself a champion, gotten from Ivanka Trump’s service to the Trump administration? Little to nothing. Aside from some missteps involving foreign leaders and some vague statements about issues involving women and families, her profile has been low. Of late, but for a trip to the Olympics in South Korea, where she was asked the inappropriate question, she has made little impact.
For all the mystery around the question of what she actually does in the White House, Ivanka Trump is at least less of a liability than her husband, whose problems seem to be growing by the day. Brought into the administration at the start, and given an overstuffed portfolio that includes dealing with China and the Middle East, Kushner has never received a full security clearance from the FBI. This problem and others got him crosswise with Kelly, who forced the issue in a way that led to the decision to deny him access to the most highly classified government secrets.
The current trouble with Kushner revolves, as it long has, around his family real estate business, which launched him into adulthood with access to what appeared to be a vast fortune with contacts at the highest levels of business and society.
Now, as The New York Times has reported, it seems investors visited the White House before putting hundreds of millions into Kushner ventures. According to the Times, after a private equity billionaire with Apollo Global Management and a Citigroup executive separately visited the White House, their companies lent Kushner Cos. a combined $500 million. Joshua Harris of Apollo even reportedly discussed a potential job in the administration (which never materialized) with Kushner.
A spokesman for Harris said he was not involved in the decision to loan money, while a Citigroup spokeswoman said its relationship to Kushner Cos. had no connection to Kushner’s White House role, the Times reported. A representative for Kushner’s attorney said that Kushner has not participated in “any business, loans, or projects with or for” Kushner Cos. since joining the White House, the paper said.
Considering the example set by the President, who has ignored precedent by retaining attachments to his business interests (and their profits), Kushner’s awful judgment when it came to taking (and potentially using) his position seems like business as usual. It may be normal for the Trumps, and others who believe they play by their own rules, but it is not for those who believe a White House job entails at least a modicum of civicmindedness.
All of this brings America to the unlikely place where by comparison, a young woman like Hope Hicks, with the barest qualifications for her own White House position is, with her resignation, rising as an exemplar of public service.
The door remains where it has always been, waiting now for others (who should never have been inside the White House to begin with) to use it. The time has come for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to use it and return to the lives they should have held onto in the first place.