New combative Ivanka Trump sparks questions about her future

A more combative Ivanka Trump has emerged with little more than one month left in her role as adviser to...

Posted: Dec 5, 2020 10:43 AM
Updated: Dec 5, 2020 12:30 PM

A more combative Ivanka Trump has emerged with little more than one month left in her role as adviser to President Donald Trump, as the first daughter makes a conscious effort to publicly push back on her critics.

According to a source familiar with her thinking, Ivanka Trump recognizes there is a time stamp on the administration and she's spent the last several weeks highlighting on social media the causes she feels she has impacted during her tenure, as well as showing hints she is ready for a fight.

Trump recently veered from her more milquetoast posts to pushing back against what she described as 'partisan investigations,' and adopting an aggressive posture more aligned with that of her father.

On Tuesday, Ivanka Trump was deposed in the Washington, DC, attorney general's inauguration lawsuit, focused on investigating potential malfeasance during the 2016 Trump inaugural festivities. And though she did not publicly announce her testimony ahead of time, she had something to say afterward.

'This week I spent 5+ hours in a deposition with the Democrat D.C. AG's office where they questioned the rates charged by the Trump Hotel at the inauguration. I shared with them an email from 4 years ago where I sent instructions to the hotel to charge 'a fair market rate' (see below) which the hotel then did,' she wrote in the statement.

'This 'inquiry' is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars,' she added.

The December 14, 2016, email, attached in Trump's tweet, said: 'Just seeing this. Why don't you call and negotiate. It should be a fair market rate.'

Trump's tone and charges of 'vindictiveness' in process came on the heels of her defense the week prior of two investigations into the President's tax deductions, which she tweeted were 'harassment.'

'This is harassment pure and simple. This 'inquiry' by NYC democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage. They know very well that there's nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless,' she tweeted, later calling it a 'fishing expedition' and 'a continued political vendetta.'

The tone and tenor of Trump's words and actions in the final months of her White House job indicate a transformation from four years ago, when upon moving to Washington she was viewed as a moderate voice, more socially conscious than most conservative Republicans.

Yet as time moved on, Trump's shift to the right solidified.

She has 'gone full MAGA,' a source said, adopting a more conservative viewpoint in sync with the Trump brand, becoming more closely intertwined with her father.

'I am pro-life, and unapologetically so,' Ivanka Trump said in an October interview with Real Clear Politics, taking a public stance out of step with the New York liberals she formerly socialized with.

Trump has publicly maintained a neatly tailored West Wing portfolio. And privately, she advised her father on a much wider range of issues. She also dabbled in diplomacy, meeting with world leaders on various topics and traveling abroad on the administration's behalf, including trips to India, South Korea, Germany and Japan.

During the presidential campaign, as swing states narrowed and the push to lure suburban women voters became more dire for Trump, Ivanka Trump was the one strategically deployed, making several stops in the suburbs of North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona.

What Trump also discovered during her appearances was that she was a lucrative draw for the party, pulling in $35 million in nine fundraising events. The ease of wooing donors, plus high demand for her presence and the warm embrace from her father's base fueled other notions for Trump -- a louder presence, and a desire to continue her own political future.

Candidate Ivanka Trump?

Trump does have an eye toward public office, according to two friends and a small group of White House associates.

'Ivanka definitely has political ambitions, no question about it,' a source who has been working closely with the Trump family told CNN. 'She wants to run for something, but that still needs to be figured out.'

Talk of an Ivanka Trump run for Florida governor in the near future has come up, as has a possible run for Congress in New Jersey, both states where Trump has vacation homes. The Trump-Kushner family currently rents a home in DC's tony Kalorama neighborhood two miles from the White House.

They have kept their sprawling Upper East Side apartment in New York City, a White House official has said, and there is wide belief amongst the couple's closest friends they anticipate a move back to Manhattan, even if it means an inhospitable homecoming for the pair.

Requests for comment by CNN to Trump's spokesperson were not returned.

But another source close to Trump told CNN that speculators assuming she is plotting a political position should pump the brakes.

'Right now, all she cares about is her policy initiatives, accomplishing what she can on behalf of the administration in the weeks that remain, and looking out for her three young children,' said the source, adding that Trump has not 'closed the door' on any future opportunities, including a run for office.

The feistiness of her recent public comments, lashing out at Democrats and officials investigating both she and her father, is calculated. She is 'speaking out more,' with less concern about 'sitting back and letting people say what they want and distort facts,' said the source close to Ivanka Trump.

The more she swings back, the more she positions herself for a future run as a Republican, said the source who works with the family, and she's doing so with the blessing of her father.

'Of all the children, Trump is focused on her running. He sees Ivanka as the heir apparent,' the source said.

Next Steps

CNN reported last month that Trump had emerged as someone looking for a way for the President to save face as he considers his own future. She and her husband Jared Kushner would prefer the President speed up his legal processes around the country, as they have proved fruitless endeavors, and concede the race. A key force playing into the couple's calculations: an eye toward her future and her husband Jared Kushner's legacy.

Trump is keenly aware of the legs Kushner's work on Middle East peace could have in the months and years outside of Washington, often tweeting her husband's accomplishments in the sector. She offered a more calibrated message to her father, asking him whether it was worth damaging his legacy and potentially his businesses to continue his denial about election results.

Ivanka Trump is privately realistic about the President's loss, a source told CNN, but she also knows that her entire future -- now more than ever -- is tied to her father's and must be handled delicately.

Ivanka Trump, says one longtime acquaintance, 'has ambition in her bones, she is driven by getting to the top of whatever it is she wants to get to the top of.'

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