“If she ever wanted to run for president, I think she’d be very, very hard to beat,” President Trump said as critics have cast Ivanka as a self-interested hypocrite

By Adam Carlson
April 16, 2019 09:08 AM
The Trump children, from left: Ivanka, Tiffany, Barron, Eric and Donald Jr.
Alex Wong/Getty

In a recent Oval Office interview, President Donald Trump had only good things to say about his five children. But it was eldest daughter Ivanka Trump, one of his senior aides, whom he said was “unique.”

“If she ever wanted to run for president, I think she’d be very, very hard to beat,” he told The Atlantic in a profile of Ivanka published on Friday.

Of his other kids, he said, “Barron is young, but he’s got wonderful potential. And Tiffany’s doing extremely well. Don is, uh, he’s enjoying politics; actually, it’s very good. And Eric is running the business along with Don and also very much into politics. I mean, the children — the children have been very, very good.”

Ivanka, 37, is ” a natural diplomat,” the president gushed. “She would’ve been great at the United Nations, as an example.”

“I even thought of Ivanka for the World Bank … She would’ve been great at that because she’s very good with numbers,” he said.

Tellingly, President Trump said in his Atlantic interview that he was warded off from a U.N. nomination for Ivanka because of the potential criticism of nepotism — the very thing that has most dogged her White House role since 2017.

Critics say Ivanka is a self-interested hypocrite, providing a pleasing front to an administration whose policies she at least tacitly abets, except for mild and strategically deployed complaints.

RELATED: Ivanka Trump Is a ‘Living Barbie Doll’ — and Persuasive to Republicans — Ex-White House Aide Says

Inside the White House, Ivanka has honed in on primarily economic and family issues and the press team is quick to trumpet her work and messaging on jobs and taxes.

She once described herself to the New York Times as a “moderating force,” according to the paper’s paraphrase. But she has either declined to publicly comment on some of her father’s most incendiary behavior or, behind the scenes, has unsuccessfully lobbied him to soften his positions (as with the Paris Agreement on climate change) or reportedly even defended him to other aides (as with his remarks about white nationalists).

Like her famously image-conscious father, Ivanka takes particular care with how she is perceived. Her temperament drew her father’s praise: He told The Atlantic she has “a great calmness” and “a tremendous presence when she walks into the room.”

“She’s got a great calmness … I’ve seen her under tremendous stress and pressure,” he said. “She reacts very well — that’s usually a genetic thing, but it’s one of those things, nevertheless.”

RELATED VIDEO: Ivanka Trump Defends the Nontraditional Role Melania Took as Campaign Wife

From left: President Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump at a rally in November
Carolyn Kaster/AP/Shutterstock

An anonymous official from the president’s 2016 campaign told The Atlantic that Ivanka was “by far the most requested surrogate,” though it’s brother Don Jr. who has become his father’s most visible defender on the trail since — a vocal supporter on cable news, on social media and at rallies.

Ivanka, meanwhile, avoided the campaign trail leading up to last year’s midterms.

The president described the evolution of her White House role in nebulous terms.

“I asked Trump how he had envisioned Ivanka’s role,” The Atlantic‘s Elaina Plott writes. “‘So I didn’t know,’” he said without pause. “’I’m not sure she knew.’ ”

RELATED: Are Ivanka and Jared What They Seem? Highlights from Unflattering (but Mostly Anonymous) New Book

Of her economic focus, her father said, “She went into the whole helping-people-with-jobs, and I wasn’t sure that was going to be the best use of her time, but I didn’t know how successful she’d be.”

A former administration official told The Atlantic that Ivanka’s failed lobbying on behalf of the Paris Agreement was based on an argument about preventing negative headlines. The official spoke derisively of one presentation she gave in the Situation Room.

The president hand-waved away their disagreement on climate change with a subtle rebuke.

“Ivanka was in favor of staying in [the Paris Agreement]. She expressed it, but I’m not sure she knew it as well as I did,” he said. “I’m not sure she knew the costs of it … You know, that was one of my easier decisions, actually.”