Ivanka Trump arrived in Berlin on Tuesday morning armed with facts and figures to recite at what was expected to be a highbrow international summit to discuss women’s entrepreneurship, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But on her first international trip as an official representative of the United States, the first daughter was put on the spot about her father’s attitudes toward women, booed and hissed at by the crowd, and grilled by the moderator about what, exactly, her role is in President Donald Trump’s administration.
“You’re the first daughter of the United States, and you’re also an assistant to the president,” said the moderator, WirtschaftsWoche editor-in-chief Miriam Meckel. “The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?”
It was an aggressive opening line of questioning for the first daughter, who was seated next to Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and one seat down from Merkel. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands was also a participant on the W20 Summit panel, which Ivanka Trump attended at Merkel’s invitation. And it appeared to put her on the spot.
“Certainly not the latter,” Trump said. “I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well. … It has been a little under 100 days, and it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.”
She did not define what her new role as a senior White House official entailed but said she cares “very much about empowering women in the workplace” and defined her goal as enacting “incremental positive change. That is my goal. This is very early for me; I’m listening, learning.”
The questions asked of Trump seemed more direct than those about women in the workforce posed to other panelists. But there was also a lot of curiosity ahead of her visit here about Trump’s new role in her father’s administration.
Trump, who was deeply involved with her father’s campaign and has been instrumental in his administration in the first three months in office, positioned herself as someone who is still in humbling listening-tour mode. “I’m striving to think about how best to empower women in the economy,” she said, at one point calling herself a feminist. “I have no doubt that coming out of this trip I’ll be more informed.”
But she was booed and hissed at by the majority-women audience at the conference when she lauded her father for supporting paid-leave policies. “I’m very proud of my father’s advocacy,” she said, calling him “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”
Meckel, the moderator, pushed her to address the vocal disapproval from the audience.
“You hear the reaction from the audience,” she said. “I need to address one more point — some attitudes toward women your father has displayed might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empowerer for women.”
During the campaign, more than a dozen women went public to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, unwanted advances and assault. Ivanka Trump did not comment on those accusations during the campaign, and on Tuesday she dismissed the criticism via her father’s favorite enemy — the press.
“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, that’s been perpetuated,” she said, drawing laughs from the audience.
And despite being invited to attend the panel by Merkel in her role as a senior White House official, she defended her father from her vantage point of loyal daughter — a crouch familiar from when she was confronted by uncomfortable questions about her father on the campaign.
“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level,” Ivanka Trump said. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do; he provided that for us.” She said that her father treated her exactly the same way he treated her two brothers, who now run the family business. “There was no difference,” she said.
Trump also credited her father’s administration for hiring women in important roles.
“The team basically going through the vetting and hiring process — six out of eight of those people are women,” she said.
By: Annie Karni