The First Daughter sparked controversy when she sat in for her father, US President Donald Trump, at a meeting of world leaders at the 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg. This was reportedly a breach of protocol and critics of Mr Trump accused him of blurring the lines between family and official business. They pointed out Ivanka was unelected and lacks foreign policy experience, and claimed she was therefore an unsuitable candidate to sit in for the President.
Others laid into Ivanka herself, who claimed in an interview not long before the G20 meeting that she tries to “stay out of politics”.
Michael McFaul, United States ambassador to Russia under Barack Obama and professor of political science at Stanford University, tweeted: “This is strange. Very strange.”
However, the decision was backed up by a surprising ally: German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
She dismissed concerns about Ivanka’s presence at the meeting in a news conference, saying it was up to each country to decide who steps in when the leader has to leave for another meeting and that it was not unusual.
She said: “Ivanka Trump was part and parcel of the American delegation, so that is something that other delegations also do.
“It is well known that she works in the White House and is also engaged in certain initiatives.”
Mr Trump defended his decision to leave Ivanka in charge, name dropping Mrs Merkel in the process.
He claimed he just stepped out briefly to attend to important other business and that the Chancellor supported his decision.
The US President tweeted: “When I left Conference Room for short meetings with Japan and other countries, I asked Ivanka to hold seat. Very standard. Angela M agrees!”
Mrs Merkel’s support of the President here was surprising to some, given some of the things Mr Trump has said about Germany and her leadership in the past.
For example, he branded her decision to allow around one million refugees to enter her country “insane” in 2015.
During the 2016 election, he compared the Chancellor to his rival Hillary Clinton in not the most flattering of ways, saying: “Hillary Clinton wants to be America’s Angela Merkel, and you know what a disaster this massive immigration has been to Germany and the people of Germany.
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“Crime has risen to levels that no one thought they would ever see.”
When Mr Trump was elected, Mrs Merkel congratulated him, but also issued a warning that the relationship between Germany and the US was based on common values, and that she would expect these to continue.
In terms of policy, Mr Trump has railed against Germany and other European countries for apparently not contributing enough to NATO.
Other foreign policy decisions and rhetoric have also caused tension, such as his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal ‒ which Mr Trump officially pulled out of in 2018 ‒ and the Paris climate accord, which he announced his intention to leave in 2017.
Nevertheless, Mrs Merkel has always held off from directly criticising the President.
Mr Trump continued to defend his decision to have his daughter sit in for him at the G20, by dragging Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea into it.
He tweeted: “If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother, as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say Chelsea for Pres!”
Chelsea, who has long used social media to attack the policies of the Trump administration, hit back immediately.
She insisted that her mother would never have considered asking her to do such a thing.
She tweeted: “Good morning Mr President. It would never have occurred to my mother or my father to ask me.
“Were you giving our country away? I hope not.”
While this was primarily a retort to an unprovoked attack on her, it was also an awkward snub, given that Chelsea and Ivanka used to be good friends.
Chelsea said in 2018 that the pair had not spoken in “a long time”.
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