Ivanka Trump's role in her father's political career has been a point of confusion since he started his campaign, and especially since he took office. Is she a supportive first daughter? Is she taking over the role of first lady? Or is she a political adviser, like her husband?
When it was announced she would work in the White House as an unpaid "special assistant" to the president, it seemed the answer was the latter. However, in an interview with Fox & Friends that aired Monday morning, she said she tries to "stay out of politics."
She added, "I don't profess to be a political savant, so I leave the politics to other people and really lean into the issues that I care deeply about."
First of all, no one with an office in the White House can rightfully claim they "stay out of politics." If you work for the president of the United States in an advisory role, your job is inevitably politics.
By claiming she's not political, Ivanka is downplaying her involvement in the Trump administration. She's officially working for her dad, and claiming to not be involved in politics seems to be a way to avoid the backlash when his harmful policies (such as banning immigrants and refugees from majority Muslim countries) are criticized.
Although she's careful not to give clear answers on what policies she's working on or advising the president on, just last week Ivanka was meeting with key Republicans in Congress about paid leave.
In the same Fox & Friends interview she even said she advises the president on policy. While saying she avoids topics she's against, she said, "I instead like to focus on areas where I can add positive value, where I can contribute to the agenda," listing policies on workforce development and helping veterans as examples.
So, she wants to stay out of politics, while advising the president on policy?
The oldest Trump daughter has largely taken up the role of first lady, moving to Washington, D.C. before actual First Lady Melania, accompanying President Trump on foreign trips, and giving countless interviews.
It's true that first ladies tend to steer clear of policy, with the exception of Hillary Clinton, who was an adviser to President Clinton and helped shape healthcare policy.
But there's a key difference between Ivanka and former first ladies, including Clinton — she claims to disagree with the president on major issues. She organized meetings with Al Gore on climate change during the transition and reportedly supported the U.S. remaining in the Paris climate accord, which President Trump later abandoned. She wrote on Twitter that she supports the LGBTQ community, while the Trump administration has rolled back protections for transgender students and didn't recognize June as Pride month. She also called the Syrian refugee crisis "a global humanitarian crisis" that we need to come together and solve, while President Trump has moved to ban all Syrian refugees from entering the country.
"Naturally, there are areas where there's disagreement; we're two different human beings," she told Fox & Friends on Monday.
Presidents and first ladies are always two different people with two different minds. But, they don't normally disagree on such important issues (like whether or not climate change is a "hoax"). Because Ivanka claims to stray from the administration's thinking on multiple issues — and was hired as an official White House employee — playing the "I'm not a politician" card is more strategic than it would be coming from other women filling the first lady role.
If avoiding real policy positions and always supporting her father is the way Ivanka will maintain her status as a "moderating force" for President Trump, that makes her more of a cheerleader than a political adviser. If Ivanka is helping shape the country’s policies, she needs to decide whether she's political or not. And if she's going to fully back up the president, as she continues to do publicly, she can't sidestep the controversial issues. After all, it’s hard to be half political when you have an office in the White House.