Ivanka Trump’s Tricky Comeback Tour

Save this storySave this storySave this storySave this story

Poor Ivanka! Just when she thought she was out, they pulled her back in. I am referring, of course, to her recent appearance at the civil fraud trial of her father, Donald Trump, which has been ongoing in Manhattan for six weeks. The trial stems from the New York attorney general Letitia James’s contention that the former President—along with his two eldest sons, and other Trump Organization executives—fraudulently inflated his net worth, and the value of his real-estate assets on financial documents, which helped them secure favorable loans for the company.

Ivanka narrowly wriggled out of being a defendant herself: she stopped working for the Trump Organization, where she had been an executive vice-president, in 2017—which, as luck would have it, places her outside the statute of limitations for the trial’s purposes. She also did her best to avoid getting called as a government witness, with her lawyers claiming that she would “suffer undue hardship” if she were “required to testify at trial in New York in the middle of a school week.” (Ivanka lives in Florida and has three young children.) But, despite this heartstrings-pulling nod to the spectre of motherhood, the claim was rejected by the prosecution. And so there she was on Wednesday morning, striding into the New York State Supreme Courthouse, the picture of staid elegance in a navy suit and coat, a Chanel handbag in her hand, her hair long and smooth down her back, a slight smile on her face (which, if one were to believe the Daily Mail, might have been newly if tastefully nipped and tucked for the occasion). She was, apparently, ready to like it or lump it.

In the years since her father was dragged, kicking and screaming, out of office, Ivanka—the cleverest, arguably least embarrassing member of her clan—has attempted, with some effort, to rebuild her life away from her previous power bases. Before the Trump Presidency, in her native New York, she ran a successful apparel business, and was also a front-facing pillar of her father’s real-estate company and his heiress apparent. After her father was elected, she and her husband, the butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth real-estate scion Jared Kushner, moved to D.C., where they served as advisers in the Trump Administration, with Ivanka becoming a kind of First Lady manquée in the frequent absence of her stepmother, Melania. But, unfortunately for Ivanka, the latter period, with its shocking and chaotic January 6th coda, proved disastrous to the reputation she had worked to establish in the former. Once a member of New York’s élite social set and a staple of the charity-gala circuit, she was suddenly persona non grata, her toxic association with her father too hot to handle for her generally liberal cohort, none of whom seemed to want to be photographed at a party with a woman who wrote, after the Capitol riot, in a since-deleted tweet, that the insurrectionists were “American patriots.” (In the same tweet, she called for an end to the violence and asked these patriots to “be peaceful.”)

And so, after leaving the White House, Ivanka and Kushner relocated to Miami. The family lives in the gated community of Indian Creek Village, known as “billionaire bunker,” where, to once again reference the Ivanka-obsessed Daily Mail, they seem to have been spending their days pleasantly enough, wakeboarding, boating, and going to synagogue. (Before marrying Kushner, who was raised Modern Orthodox, Ivanka converted to Judaism.) And yet, for all the considerable comforts of high-end beach-side living, this still felt like a self-imposed exile. Ivanka, despite occasionally speaking out against her dad—in 2016, she referred to his comments in the “Access Hollywood” tape as “inappropriate and offensive,” and, more recently, she told Congress that she doesn’t believe the 2020 election was stolen—had chosen to ensconce herself in MAGA-pilled Florida. As far as one could tell, she appeared reconciled to never being invited back to the A-list events she was once a shoo-in for, like Anna Wintour’s Met Gala.

Lately, however, there have been signs that Ivanka is hoping for a return to the fold. In late 2022, she released a statement in which she officially distanced herself from her father, announcing that she will not be part of his 2024 Presidential campaign and would prefer to lead a “private life” that’s not “involved in politics.” And an even more pointed sign that change was afoot came a couple of weeks ago, and not just from any quarters, but from the most powerful woman in America: Kim Kardashian. In an October 22nd Instagram post, in which Kardashian called herself “so blessed to have hit the jackpot of friends,” the reality-TV star threw up a number of pictures of her best gal pals getting down at her forty-third birthday party in Beverly Hills, including not just her famous sisters and social mainstays such as the model Hailey Bieber and Jeff Bezos’s fiancée, Lauren Sanchez, but also Ivanka, looking as polished as ever in a sparkly white two-piece top-and-skirt set. This was mysterious—it’s still not exactly clear to me what Kardashian’s angle is here—but it seemed undeniable that a P.R. campaign was under way, especially when, a week later, Kardashian posted an Instagram story wishing Ivanka a happy birthday, calling her “the most thoughtful sweetest soul.” In one posted picture, Ivanka and Kardashian were sitting near a fireplace, the two women’s respective daughters, Arabella and North, on their laps, with, for good measure, a fluffy white dog in Arabella’s arms. (“Our babies are so small here,” Kardashian added, with a crying-face emoji.)

We are so back, the posts seemed to suggest. But not so fast. Soon enough, Ivanka was on the witness stand, once again in the thankless role of cleaning up her father’s mess. Initially set to testify before the former President, she ended up following him, owing to a scheduling issue. During his own testimony, on Monday, Trump gave, as expected, an extended fart-and-shout-style performance, calling Attorney General James’s prosecution “a political witch hunt” and rambling about the underhanded motivations for the trial. Ivanka’s testimony, meanwhile, was muted and polite. She smiled, spoke softly, and even bantered a little with Judge Arthur F. Engoron. This pleasant manner, however, was laced with what my colleague John Cassidy called “selective amnesia.” In the course of her nearly five-hour testimony, Ivanka repeatedly went Reagan-in-Iran-Contra-deposition mode, seemingly unable to recall her knowledge of or involvement in securing favorable loans based on an inflated valuation of Trump Organization assets, even when faced with e-mails sent from her own account. Ivanka was “very, very nice, very friendly,” James said outside the courthouse. Still, she went on, Trump’s daughter was involved in obtaining the beneficial loans that lie at the core of the trial. “The documents do not lie. The numbers do not lie.” This most thoughtful sweetest soul, James was indicating, might have known and done more than she’s letting on. ♦

Sourse: newyorker.com

No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *