Ivanka Trump, The Most Powerful First Daughter In U.S. History?

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Ivanka Trump is slated to become an official employee of the U.S. government. The first daughter plans to serve as an adviser to her father, President Donald Trump — a role she’s held in an unofficial capacity up until now.

Only a few weeks into her father’s presidency, Ivanka Trump has already exerted an unusual degree of power for a first daughter. She has participated in high-profile meetings with some of the world’s most powerful leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She’s acquired her own West Wing office, and has received security clearance and even a government-issued communications device.

“She’s the most prominent woman in this…administration next to Kellyanne Conway, one of the few women in the Trump orbit,” Kate Andersen Brower, author of First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies, explained to USA Today back in January.

“Hers is the one phone call her father always takes. She’s his top adviser, he respects her judgment and…she softens him a little bit,” said Brower.

Ivanka Trump attends a roundtable meeting with women small business owners.
Ivanka Trump participates in a roundtable meeting [Image by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images]

With her new status as a government employee, Ivanka Trump is acquiring an “unprecedented” position in modern politics. According to Bloomberg, “instances of family members — particularly children — of presidents serving in the administration are rare and unprecedented under modern ethics standards.”

Ivanka herself has acknowledged as much.

“Throughout this process I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House Counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role.”

What increases her influence even more is the fact that the first lady, Melania Trump, has opted to remain in New York to look after her 10-year-old child, Barron Trump. This leaves an important vacancy in Washington D.C., which Ivanka has to a certain extent filled. In playing hostess to some of the most powerful people in the world, Ivanka extends her political influence even further.

How Does Ivanka Trump compare to Anna Roosevelt?

Ivanka Trump’s current position as both first daughter and surrogate first lady is not itself unprecedented. We have seen other first daughters rise to the same responsibility in the past, according to Brower, although it’s not something we’ve seen recently.

“While we’ve had daughters fill in for the first lady before – or President Cleveland’s sister or President Buchanan’s niece – that was in the 19th century,” Brower explained.

However, Anna Roosevelt, the daughter of FDR, actually took up this responsibility herself on certain occasions, as when she accompanied her father to Yalta to meet with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. But in addition to this role, she also worked as FDR’s personal assistant and helped influence many of his decisions. Some have suggested, for instance, that FDR’s decision to put Harry Truman on the ticket for the 1944 election was her idea. And in 1945, Life even put it that “Daddy’s girl is running daddy.”

As Doug Wead, author of “All the Presidents’ Children” explained, “you can’t have more power than Anna Roosevelt had.”

FDR speaks with daughter Anna Roosevelt
FDR and daughter Anna en route to Yalta [Image by AP Images]

Yet, it’s still early in the Trump presidency, and whether or not Ivanka turns out to accrue more influence remains to be seen. But one final point deserves some attention. President Trump has surrounded himself with a few close advisers, and he appears to constantly turn to them for decision-making advice. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are among this select group.

Perhaps the president’s tendency of relying on his inner circle will prove to increase the first daughter’s power in the political arena. It’s likely Ivanka will not back down from the opportunity should it appear, given the role she’s played so far in helping the administration.

[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]