After years of remaining largely untangled from the vast web of Russia conspiracy that has engulfed her father’s presidency, First Daughter Ivanka Trump suddenly finds herself firmly within its sticky centre.
On Monday, the Department of Justice's internal watchdog released a new report detailing the origins of the FBI’s decision to investigate President Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia. Over the course of a lengthy investigation, the inspector general and his team logged more than 170 interviews with over 100 witnesses — one of whom was Christopher Steele, the former British spy who famously compiled a dossier that accused Trump of, among other things, urinating on Russian prostitutes. (The fear was that Russian intelligence had obtained footage of the incident, known as the “pee tape,” that could be later used to blackmail Trump...remember? I’m so tired).
At the time it was released, the dossier, which was commissioned by the private investigation firm Fusion GPS, landed Steele in the crosshairs of conservatives. They claimed that Steele compiled his report as part of an agenda-driven attempt to take down Trump.
But on Monday, the DOJ report revealed that Steele told investigators that he was actually “favourably disposed” to the Trump family because of his positive relationship with one family member in particular. Hours after the DOJ report dropped, a bombshell report from ABC News revealed that the family member in question was, in fact, Ivanka Trump.
In the DOJ report, Steele admitted to having "been friendly" with the Trump family member in question for some years and characterized their relationship as "personal," admitting that he once gifted the unnamed Trump relative a tartan from Scotland.
According to emails reviewed by ABC News, Ivanka and Steele first met at a dinner in 2007 and began emailing shortly thereafter. During the course of their correspondence, which spanned several years, the two reportedly discussed how Steele's business agency, Orbis Business Intelligence, could help the Trump Organization expand into foreign real estate markets.
Ultimately, the internal watchdog concluded its report by finding that the evidence the FBI had used to launch and authorize its probe into Trump’s dealings with Russia "was sufficient to predicate the investigation." On Wednesday 11 Dec, the Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, is set to testify on the report's findings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As for Ivanka, news of her personal dealings with Steele is sure to bring a high level of public scrutiny along with it — looks like she’ll have to keep an even lower profile than usual at the White House in the coming weeks.