President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump sat in for the president among world leaders at a G20 session on Saturday. The younger Trump, an unelected former fashion entrepreneur who has no previous government or foreign-policy experience, has become one of her father’s top aides in the White House, and on Saturday at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, she briefly took her father’s place at a table of world leaders when he left the room. She was thus seated between British prime minister Theresa May and Chinese president Xi Jinping, with German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Russian president Vladimir Putin also nearby at the table. Bloomberg reports that, according to one official watching the session, this happened at least twice, but Ivanka never spoke while occupying the seat. So far, just one photo of one of the swaps has emerged, taken during the “Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health” session and posted (and later deleted) on Twitter by Svetlana Lukash, who is a sherpa helping the Russian delegation at the G20. Here is a screenshot of that tweet:
The original source of the news and photo didn’t go without notice, as many presumed that the Russian delegation took and published the photo in order to embarrass the U.S.
World leaders are allowed to bring staff to some of the G20 meetings, and when other leaders left the session on Saturday, their seats were also temporarily filled by others, according to an unnamed White House official. That official explained to NBC News that “Ivanka was sitting in the back and then briefly joined the main table when the President had to step out and the President of the World Bank started talking” about an initiative which she was working on. Assuming Bloomberg’s reporting is correct that Ivanka Trump took the president’s seat more than once, it’s not clear what was being discussed on the other occasions.
Regardless, Ivanka Trump’s assumption of her father’s seat is highly unusual, as typically a government minister or senior government official assumes that role when necessary. Ivanka Trump, on the other hand, is a world leader’s close family member, as well as an unpaid advisor and assistant to the president who has no experience or expertise in diplomacy or policy. Late last month, she also claimed on Fox and Friends that she tries “to stay out of politics” and that she does not “profess to be a political savant” but, with regards to her father’s presidency, feels “blessed just being part of the ride from day one and before.” Also part of the ride at the White House, of course, is Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a real-estate developer with no political, government, or foreign-policy experience who has now been tasked with, among many other things, solving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The World Bank initiative that the White House official was referring to is a fund to finance women entrepreneurs that the organization co-developed with Ms. Trump. The World Bank is looking to raise $1 billion for the fund, which will be used to help women around the world gain access to capital. The program, which was announced on Saturday, aims to raise $200 million in grants from donor countries and $800 million in contributions from financial institutions and commercial donors. In addition, as Bloomberg notes:
The fund cements the World Bank’s ties to the Trump family at a time when President Donald Trump’s administration has questioned the wisdom of financing poor countries and emerging markets with U.S. cash. In its budget proposal, the Trump administration called for cutting funding for the World Bank and other multilateral development lenders by $650 million over three years.
President Trump announced on Saturday that the U.S. was pledging $50 million to Ivanka’s entrepreneurship fund, however. He also, while praising his daughter’s efforts on the program, commented that, “If she weren’t my daughter it would be so much easier for her. That might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth.”