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As far as I understand, Ivanka Trump does not have an official position in the administration.

However, Wikipedia calls her an "adviser" and "part of the White House inner circle". This article by Yahoo suggests that her presence at some meetings is inappropriate, a suggestion that seems to be common (here is an example by the NYT).

What is Ivanka Trump's role in the White House? Is it common for family members of the president to have this role? Is it appropriate, or are there ethical problems with it?

  • 2
    One word rebuttal to the esteemed "journalists" from NYT insinuating that this is in some way "unprecendental": Hillary – user4012 Mar 19 '17 at 19:29
  • @user4012 they are not insinuating that it is unprecedented, but that it is unusual (which seems to be true). I also think that the situations are not really the same, but it's true that the Clinton case has been used as comparison to show why involving family may not be such a good idea (eg by Fox). – tim Mar 19 '17 at 19:40
  • The BBC have an article specifically on presidential daughters around the world. – Steve Melnikoff Mar 23 '17 at 11:55
  • Of course, Hillary Clinton is an example of a President's close relative being an advisor; indeed, she actually was put in charge of some initiatives (most famously "Hillary Care" which didn't go anywhere at the time, but which is clearly a precursor to "Obama Care"). Going back further into history, it was not unusual for earlier Presidents to have their close relatives in unofficial advisory, or sometimes official, capacities. – Jeffiekins Jun 5 '17 at 16:27
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Edit: This has just officially changed (sorta), see here. Ivanka now has an official White House office, but is not officially a government employee. Honestly I have no idea what exactly that means as it's in a super grey area.

I will be leaving my old answer below as it was the correct answer at the time the OP asked the question.


Officially Ivanka Trump has no White House role, not even as an advisor. If you look at the wiki article's wording, it's "she is considered to be an adviser", not she is an advisor.

However, in reality she obviously has the close ear of the President and does advise him on issues. From this standpoint it's not uncommon for a president (or anyone really) to have people give them advice from outside their team. For example, presidents will often times speak with previous presidents, even though previous presidents are not part of the official team.

In the same way, it is not uncommon for Presidential family members to be unofficial advisors to the president. Its unavoidable. As a simple example, the first lady has no official position in the office of the president (she has her own office that is not defined by the constitution), but the first lady still will obviously discuss policy with the president.

Ivanka though does have attributes in her role that do make it unusual. As mentioned in those articles Ivanka is generally much more hands on than your average unofficial advisor. For example, the first lady generally does not sit in on policy meetings with foreign heads of state.

For the ethical side of it... it's hard to say. As mentioned, she is not officially part of the White House staff, so the restrictions on her are much looser, but there are clearly some actions that raise eyebrows. The most concrete thing here is the federal anti-nepotism statutes that restrict employment of relatives. This actually came up when Ivanka's husband Jared Kushner was officially appointed as a senior advisor. Again however, since Ivanka is not officially employed by the White House it's hard to bring a solid case.

  • What kind of security clearance does the First Lady has in comparison to what Ivanka Trump would have ? curious ? – Max Mar 21 '17 at 1:33
  • @Max Don't know, and kind of doubt its going to be made public. – Reinstate Monica Mar 21 '17 at 1:53
  • @Max This CNN article and this Washington Times article suggest that first ladies have historically had no security clearance, and this ABC article suggests that Ivanka Trump will soon get clearance to some classified information (no details though). – tim Mar 21 '17 at 11:44
  • This answer is now seriously out-of-date. – Burt_Harris Nov 21 '18 at 2:38

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