Is Ivanka Trump Already Testing Her New York Endgame
ot so long ago, September in Manhattan would have meant something different to Ivanka Trump. Before becoming a White House adviser in her father’s administration, the real-estate heiress and tabloid fixture would have been in the stands at the U.S. Open, alongside fellow tennis fans Wendi Deng and Princess Beatrice, or model Karlie Kloss. She would have been shuttling from show to show during Fashion Week, or heading to the ballet, as she has in years past.
But New York is a very different town for Ivanka since she and her husband, fellow White House adviser Jared Kushner, packed up their family and moved to Washington. The doors to her Trump Organization and Ivanka Trump, the brand, offices, from which she orchestrated her rebranding as an emissary for women’s empowerment, are now closed to her, after she stepped down from her executive role and fashion company earlier this year. Many of the people she once called friends—as much as anyone can be friends on the New York society circuit—have turned their backs on her. The vast majority of the city’s millions of residents voted against her father, and throngs of them protest outside Trump Tower whenever the family returns.
Washington, of course, has not been much more hospitable. While Ivanka quickly set about converting her brand of female empowerment into a specific policy agenda, meeting with lawmakers to pitch a $500 billion child-care tax credit, the plan hasn’t gained much traction. Her advocacy on climate change and gay rights has not had much of an impact. She was put in the awkward position of defending the administration’s decision to scrap an equal-pay initiative, saying the policy “would not yield the intended results.” Earlier this month, reports emerged that Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were “visibly annoyed” when she dropped by the Oval Office to “say hello” during a meeting to discuss a critical spending bill.
Ivanka has achieved greater success as the face of a delineated set of issues on which she can be an authority: promoting women’s rights and education, workplace training, and programs to encourage female entrepreneurship. They are also, critically, initiatives that have served to lift Ivanka out of the unglamorous world of Washington and place her among a more rarified breed of globalist leaders back in her native New York. On Monday, while Donald Trump prepared to address the United Nations General Assembly, she sat down with India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, who requested a meeting to talk about their countries’ shared interests in encouraging female entrepreneurship and workforce development, according to a White House official. On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May invited her to give the opening remarks at a meeting focused on human trafficking. “This is a call for action, a call for global unity,” she said at the event, reiterating that her father was “prepared to bring the full force and weight of our government” to aid the problem.
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, and Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also asked for her time to talk about women’s economic empowerment, the White House official added. She also planned to have coffee with Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, whom she met in Berlin in April, when the two.
appeared on stage at the W20 organized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They are expected to talk about advocating women’s financial inclusion.
In her ascension from New York heiress to brand ambassador to global thought leader, Ivanka seemed comfortable leap-frogging the drudgery of the District to join the cosmopolitan elite. She tweeted twice about her sit-down with External Affairs Minister Swaraj, and posted six photos of the event on human trafficking. In a video clip of her father’s speech at the U.N.G.A. that she posted on Instagram, she touted May’s event and her participation in it as well. “I look forward to furthering the goals of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery at the U.N. this afternoon with U.K. Prime Minster May and continuing to champion the World Bank Group’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative in the months and years to come,” she wrote.
This perhaps gives the surest signal of where Ivanka is headed, as her father’s presidency languishes and her husband faces a mounting legal threat in the form of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. For months, people close to Ivanka and Jared have whispered to me that the couple was planning to move back to New York, that the heat was too hot on them in Washington, and that they were miserable. Other people close to them have repeatedly denied this, saying the couple remain laser-focused on the goals they set out to achieve in Washington. Either way, Ivanka seems to have found her next opportunity for re-invention whenever her time in the West Wing ends. The only question is whether she can solidify her place in the global firmament, where her anodyne advocacy finds its most natural home. Will she still have requests for meetings, and theater dates with Justin Trudeau, and coffee with the Queen, when her father is no longer in the Oval Office? What will New York look like for her then?