What should we make of the revelation Ivanka Trump primarily used a private email account (hosted on a private email domain, no less) to conduct official U.S. government business in 2017?
After a presidential election in which her father routinely lambasted Hillary Clinton for her reckless use of a private email server while secretary of State, the fact that the first daughter and senior presidential adviser arrived at the White House and engaged in the exact same type of conduct as Clinton is mind-boggling. The explanation for why Ivanka Trump would think she could do something like this, however, can be summed up in one simple word: nepotism.
It seems quaint to recall it now, given everything that’s happened since, but the selection of Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, in 2017 to serve as senior White House advisers hit Washington, D.C., like a shock wave at the time. After decades of institutional policy forbidding nepotism hires—a policy that found its foundation in an anti-nepotism law passed in the wake of President John F. Kennedy selecting his brother, Robert, to serve as the attorney general—the president relied upon a narrow loophole in the law to bring his daughter and son-in-law into the White House. Neither Ivanka Trump nor Kushner had any government experience, let alone any recognizable expertise in matters that would otherwise qualify them for their respective roles, aside from their familial positions. What they did have, of course, was the trust of the president.
Critics of the move have long had other reasons to question the wisdom of hiring Ivanka Trump and Kushner. Both have been drawn into the Russian investigation—albeit more directly in the case of Kushner, who testified before Congress and the special counsel’s investigators—and their continued retention of security clearances despite numerous red flags in their respective backgrounds has rankled legal and ethics experts.