I’ve often criticized Ivanka Trump’s brand of feminist frosting, the kind of cloying activism that looks good but is devoid of nutritional value (and is bad for you, if it’s all you digest). But today, I’ve got to eat my words. Ivanka finally proved that women can do anything.
Two dueling pieces of Ivanka Trump literature were published today. In a cover story published by Us Weekly, we learn in an exclusive interview that “practiced negotiator” Ivanka promised her three children that when they moved to D.C., they’d get a swingset. In the other, published in The New Yorker by writers from ProPublica and WNYC, we learn that this side of five years ago, Ivanka was nearly indicted for defrauding real estate investors.
The Us Weekly piece is the sort of thing that a glossy mag would run about any celebrity that offered them access. But Ivanka isn’t an actress; she’s a senior staff member at the White House. The magazine’s interviewer doesn’t press her on policy questions, doesn’t ask for specifics. It’s hard to imagine a journalist from any outlet asking John Kelly how he makes time for romance with his wife. Further, as I’ve mentioned before, Us Weekly’s owned by AMI, a media company run by David Pecker, a close friend of Donald Trump. All toothless interviews with high-level government officials should be viewed with extreme caution. More so when a personal friendship exists between the owner and the father of the subject of the puff piece.
Unfortunately for Ivanka’s limping brand, the Us Weekly interview was eclipsed by a ProPublica/New Yorker investigation. That piece tells the story of how New York prosecutors spent two years putting together a case against Ivanka Trump and her brother Don Jr. Investigators found that in promoting Trump SoHo, the wonder siblings misrepresented how many units were sold in the building. Investigators had emails where Ivanka and Don plotted to inflate sales numbers, where they coordinated their lies. And then, Marc Kasowitz—Ivanka and Junior’s dad’s attorney—showed up at the DA’s office Major Economic Crimes bureau and met with District Attorney Cyrus Vance, asking him not to charge the siblings.
Kasowitz was one of the biggest donors to Vance’s re-election campaign.
A few months later, Vance asked his prosecutors to stop pursuing the case. Six months after that, Kasowitz made another large donation to Vance’s campaign.
When the journalists who worked on the story for The New Yorker and ProPublica contacted Vance about the money Kasowitz gave him, Vance pledged to return all of it. (Vance had already returned some of Kasowitz’s money before their first meeting.) He’s running unopposed for re-election this fall.
The whole thing stinks to high heaven. And its publication on her big Us Weekly cover day eclipsed anything Ivanka could possibly say about how smart she thinks Jared Kushner, a man who is incapable of properly filling out paperwork, is.
Donald Trump did his best to shield his daughter by warning against “fake news” on Twitter this morning, but everything the president says ends up drawing more attention to that thing, whether it’s the mayor of San Juan or an article that makes two of his children sound like con artist hucksters. Maybe we should rename the Streisand Effect.
Now, it’s hard not to wonder if Ivanka’s fraud-adjacent status means her days will soon be numbered at the White House. Her father would never fire her, but the longer she stays in the spotlight, the more journalists have been able to dig up on her.
As women, we can be both moms and crooked businesspeople, we can get “goosebumps” when we visit the White House and also avoid felony charges thanks to a suspicious series of campaign donations from our dad’s lawyer to the DA’s office. We can arrange to be photographed leaving the house in ensembles that combine trend and classical shapes and we can team up with our business partners to rip people off.