Following Ivanka Trump’s trip to South Korea to observe the 2018 Winter Olympics, tension has been reported in the White House. Two people involved with the situation notified CNN that the decision to send Ms. Trump to South Korea did not sit well with the senior officials of the West Wing. US delegation was concerned, especially with North Korea’s nuclear threat to the US and the tensions across the Korean Peninsula.
The concerns of chief of staff John Kelly of Ms. Trump included that she has minimal experience in government or diplomacy, and that she has not played a major role in discussions concerning North Korea.
These concerns were aired in private, according to people close to this matter. Kelly had been advised that it would be no use to oppose Ms. Trump as the delegation’s leader, since his opinion would only be shut out.
White House officials, however, reported that Ms. Trump’s trip had been in the works for several weeks, disputing the notion of any tension, and also included that Ms. Trump was not in negotiations with South Korea, instead she would be stating administration policy.
Although Ms. Trump interacts only in a limited matter to most of the White House staff, there is much resentment towards her in the West Wing. This resentment is anything between the blurring of the lines of her apparel company to officials who feel that they are more suited for the high-profile roles that she often takes on. And while the president usually does not consider her advice on serious policy debates, to the West Wing she is seen as one of the only people who is able to calm President Trump when he is in an angry mood.
There is currently no modern day precedent for Ms. Trump’s role in the White House, which makes for difficult moments regarding her position.
Kelly has worked to instill a military-style hierarchy to the West Wing.
President Donald Trump confidently says of Kelly, “He’s going to do what’s right for the country, and I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision.”
The Olympics episode led to people questioning whether Ms. Trump was traveling as a senior advisor or the first daughter, which is a distinction that administration officials say has softened as Trump’s administration begins its second year in office. The Trump administration made it clear that Ms. Trump was leading the delegation as an administration official, rather than a family member of President Trump.
Ms. Trump oversaw a US senator, the White House press secretary, the de facto ambassador in Seoul, and members of the US military. She also spoke on behalf of the delegation when arriving in South Korea, and was the honored guest to have dinner at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.
Ms. Trump had discussed more than the Olympics on her South Korea trip. She had provided information on new economic sanctions against North Korea, and according to a senior administration official, discussed the US’s effort on the joint maximum pressure campaign against North Korea.
She also took on the role as President Trump’s daughter when questioned about his sexual misconduct allegations, saying to the NBC News US broadcaster of the Olympic Games, “I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter, if she believes the accusers of her father, when he’s affirmatively stated that there’s no truth to it. I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters.”
Different occasions in the future will undoubtedly be affected by the growing tension in the White House, as did Ms. Trump’s visit to South Korea. It appears that Ms. Trump’s actions will continue to be questioned by members of the West Wing, which may lead to issues with decision making in the country’s future.