World

Ivanka Trump stands in for US President at G20 summit

Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter and one of his top White House aides, briefly took her father’s place at a meeting with other world leaders at the G20 summit here in Hamburg on Saturday, causing a stir among Trump critics on social media.

This was confirmed by a photo of the first daughter sitting next to Chinese President Xi Jinping, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

According to CNN, a senior Trump administration official confirmed that Ivanka Trump had stepped in for her father, but dismissed any suggestion it was improper or unusual.

“Ivanka was sitting in the back and then briefly joined the main table when the President had to step out, and the president of the World Bank started talking as the topic involved areas such as African development — areas that will benefit from the facility just announced by the World Bank,” the official said, referencing a initiative Ivanka Trump has spearheaded that looks to fund women entrepreneurs.

“When other leaders stepped out, their seats were also briefly filled by others,” the official added.

Brian Fallon, a CNN political commentator and former spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, responded to the news with a tweet: “I’m sure Republicans would have taken it in stride if Chelsea Clinton was deputized to perform head of state duties,” he wrote.

But Michael McFaul, the United States ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama, said Ivanka Trump subbing in was unusual.

“This is strange,” he tweeted. “Very strange.”

Donald Trump — both as a businessman and as President — has regularly blended his family with official duties. Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, is also one of Trump’s top advisers, for example.

Ivanka, along with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Merkel, helped launch the World Bank-backed program that will promote women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries

Brian Klaas, a Trump critic and fellow at the London School of Economics, tweeted the photo of Ivanka Trump, adding, “Ivanka Trump, unelected, unqualified, daughter-in-chief, is representing the US at the G20 summit next to May, Xi, Merkel.”

However, it is not the first time family members of US Presidents have taken control of some of the Presidents’ responsibility.

Part of an article written by Sean O’Grady on Independent.co.uk reads:

Bill Clinton gave his wife health care policy to deal with, a much more outrageously unconstitutional action than Trump asking his daughter to take his place at one meeting.

Woodrow Wilson, a century ago, preferred his wife to run affairs after he had a severe and debilitating stroke, because he disliked his vice president so much he didn’t want to have him take over. No one told the country though. Eleanor Roosevelt’s undoubted power in the Franklin Roosevelt years, and Nancy Reagan’s sway over Ronnie, were maybe the closest parallels to the Ivanka situation.

Tragicomically, President Jimmy Carter once told the nation that his approach to geopolitics was informed by what his 12-year-old daughter Amy said to him. This did not assist his attempt at re-election.

So, first families have always mattered more than many people care to think. With a hereditary unelected head of state, families are a natural way of doing business, as when Kate Middleton took over from the Queen as patron of Wimbledon, and Prince Charles stood in for Prince Philip at the state opening of Parliament. With an elected head of state, such as President Trump or President Macron, say, the role of wives and relatives are always going to be trickier because they have a real human relationship with the politician but normally no constitutional or political standing. Filial bonds cannot be undone by legal convention. Thus, it is an untidy state of affairs that can’t really be helped. Sometimes it works well, sometimes not.

 

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