Ivanka Trump plays big role even without White House title

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Saturday, February 4, 2017
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner dance at the Freedom Ball, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington.
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner dance at the Freedom Ball, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington.
kgo-AP Photo/Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON -- Even without an official White House title, Ivanka Trump is proving to be a power player.

Just this past week, the first daughter joined President Donald Trump at a policy meeting with business executives and accompanied him on a trip to Delaware's Dover Air Force Base to honor the returning remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in a raid in Yemen. She hosted CEOs at her home to talk policy and used her influence behind the scenes at the White House.

These efforts have focused attention on the role Ivanka Trump, 35, expects to play after resigning executive positions with the Trump Organization and her own lifestyle brand, and moving to Washington. For now, though, it's her husband, Jared Kushner, who is officially working in the administration.

"My father will be president, and hopefully, I can be there to support him and to support those causes I've cared about my whole professional career," Ivanka Trump told ABC's "20/20" last month.

There are no models for a member of the first family with a prominent policy role on the outside - or for a first daughter with this much influence on the inside.

Ivanka Trump has tried to end speculation that she will serve as a fill-in first lady, which has only been heightened by stepmother Melania Trump's decision to continue living in New York City, where son Barron goes to school. Ivanka Trump told "20/20" that "there is one first lady." But joining the president on the Dover trip was the kind of duty that usually would fall to the president's spouse.

"That's a typical scene you usually see played out with the president and the first lady, not the first daughter," said Katherine Jellison, who heads the history department at Ohio University.

In Washington, Ivanka Trump has continued her efforts to gather information about workplace policies for women. She hosted a dinner at her home for many of the business leaders attending a White House meeting, including the top executives at Wal-Mart, General Motors and Johnson & Johnson, according to people with knowledge of the event. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss a private dinner.

Ivanka Trump also weighed, behind the scene, on a policy matter. Along with Kushner, she discouraged a possible executive order that would have affected LGBTQ workplace rights and she supported a White House statement pledging to leave intact a 2014 executive order that protects workers for federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ discrimination, according to a person with knowledge of Ivanka Trump's role in the discussion. Her involvement was first reported by Politico.

She also hit a few bumps and learned about the bigger spotlight for the first family.

She drew criticism on social media last weekend when she posted a picture of her and Kushner in formalwear a day after her father announced an executive order barring refugees from certain countries.

Nordstrom announced it will stop selling Ivanka Trump clothing and accessories, creating some questions about the future of the brand elsewhere. The Seattle-based department store chain said the decision was based on the sales performance.

Rosemary K. Young, senior director of marketing at Ivanka Trump, said in a statement that the brand "continues to expand across categories and distribution with increased customer support, leading us to experience significant year-over-year revenue growth in 2016."

A brand spokesperson said Nordstrom did order shoes and clothing for spring and moved forward with the purchase of clothing.

Last month, Trump said she will take a "formal leave of absence" from her executive positions at the Trump Organization and her company, which will be run by the current president and a board of trustees.

The process of unwinding those roles is complicated.

The Trump Organization has not filed paperwork yet to remove Ivanka Trump from its liquor license for a company tied to the Trump Soho hotel in Manhattan, according to New York State Liquor Authority spokesman William Crowley. He said companies must update their licenses within 10 business days of any management changes, and that requires agency review and approval first, and that process has not even begun because the agency has not received a request yet.

Alan Garten, chief legal officer for the Trump Organization, said Friday that all paperwork had been filed to separate Ivanka Trump from the businesses. He said it was a lengthy process and took several weeks. He did not immediately answer questions about that specific liquor license.