Ivanka Trump's Go-To Response to Wrenching Crises: Tone-Deaf Instagrams and Noteworthy Silences
President Donald Trump‘s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, has often played a prominent role on her father’s foreign trips. But this week, she stayed at home instead of traveling with Trump to Helsinki for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Now, as her father deals with the fallout from the summit — in which he dismissed the American intelligence community’s findings and accepting Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 American presidential election — Ivanka is staying mum on the subject, following a familiar pattern of hers.
Ivanka has often been criticized amid national crises as “complicit” for her public silence, and “tone-deaf” for her social media choices.
Last month, as Trump’s administration grappled with the humanitarian and PR crisis spawned by heartbreaking images of children being detained near the U.S.-Mexico border, the White House seemed to be trying to paint the first daughter as a heroine.
During a meeting with House Republicans last month, Trump revealed that Ivanka had “talked to him about the images of children, and told him what a problem they are.”
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that Ivanka went to her father and said, “Daddy, what are we doing about this?” and he admitted it was a “tough issue,” before turning to another topic.
Multiple lawmakers who attended the meeting also noted that Trump told them how Ivanka had appealed to him to end his “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
“She has been apparently very affected by this and moved, and asked him to find a way to stop this practice,” GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida told The Daily Beast at the time. “He said that he agrees that this should end, but he believes that it should end with a legislative fix.”
One day after the closed-door meeting with House Republicans, the president signed an executive order reversing his own child separation policy.
But while Ivanka is said to be one of her father’s most influential advisers, Axios reports that it was actually television coverage of the migrant children crisis that persuaded him to do an about-face on Wednesday.
“The President watches more cable news than most Americans. So he experienced an overdose of the outrage and the media frenzy,” an unnamed source who knows Trump told Axios’ Mike Allen. “So he decided, mostly on his own rather than at the urging of the advisors, that some action was required to change the narrative.”
The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
That wasn’t the first report of Ivanka using her influence to try to make her dad a more humanitarian leader. After the chemical weapon attack against Syrian civilians last year, Ivanka was reportedly in the president’s ear.
Ivanka tweeted that she was “heartbroken and outraged” by the atrocity, and her brother Eric said her reaction influenced the president’s decision to bomb a Syrian airbase to punish President Bashar al-Assad.
“Ivanka is a mother of three kids, and she has influence,” Eric Trump told The Daily Telegraph at the time. “I’m sure she said, ‘Listen, this is horrible stuff.’ My father will act in times like that.”
But Ivanka has not always stepped up in dire times — far from it. In fact, the first daughter’s concern over the administration’s optics amid the migrant children crisis follows a related public relations disaster of her own. Less than a week ago, Ivanka shared Father’s Day posts on Instagram while reports of families being torn apart at the U.S.-Mexico border dominated the national discourse.
“Happy #FathersDay to these two amazing dads <3,” Ivanka wrote on one post — a photo of herself, husband Jared Kushner and Trump.
Instagram users responded to her family shots with outrage.
“How nice that your family can be together, unlike all the children at our border you are allowing your father to corral in actual cages, away from theirs,” one user commented.
And less than a month ago, the first daughter posted family pictures as news broke that the Department of Health and Human Services had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children.
“My <3! #SundayMorning,” Ivanka captioned a cuddly photo of herself with her youngest son, Theodore.
Twitter users slammed Ivanka for the “tone-deaf” post.
“This is so unbelievably tone deaf given that public outrage is growing over young kids being forcibly ripped from the arms of their parents at the border — a barbaric policy that Ivanka Trump is complicit in supporting,” wrote Brian Klass, a fellow at the London School of Economics and former Democratic strategist.
“Isn’t it just the best to snuggle your little one — knowing exactly where they are, safe in your arms? It’s the best. The BEST. Right, Ivanka? Right?” tweeted Patton Oswalt, stand-up comedian and actor.
After the controversy, Ivanka took to Twitter to state her priorities: “Focus on what is before you, on what you can control and ignore the trolls! Have a great week!”
The migrant children crisis is not the first time Ivanka has come under fire for her ill-timed social media posts.
In March, the first daughter shared images of herself and Kushner at the opening of the controversial U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
This post came as protests against the relocation turned deadly in Gaza — evoking indignation on social media.
“I’m glad Ivanka and Jared could take time away from their busy schedule of not being qualified to represent the US, and celebrate moving the capital in exchange for the adelson’s donations, while 50+ Palestinians have been killed,” Chelsea Handler wrote on Twitter.
The New York Daily News’ headline read “55 slaughtered in Gaza, but Ivanka all smiles at Jerusalem embassy unveil.”
Ivanka was also the target of public outrage when she tweeted a glamorous photo of herself and her husband as protests against the president’s refugee ban reached their peak.
“Strangely tone-deaf to show off this sparkly, tinfoil eveningwear given current humanitarian crisis,” one user wrote on Twitter.
“I don’t think it’s tone deafness. She knows exactly what she’s doing,” another user tweeted.
The first daughter has also on occasion used social media to subtly contradict her father. Following the president’s failure to denounce the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Ivanka, who converted to Judaism when she married Kushner, wrote a series of tweets speaking out against the racism.
But even then, critics on Twitter said her words were “too little, too late.”