Newly installed White House adviser Ivanka Trump is in Germany and was booed Tuesday as she was defending her father’s record on women’s issues.
Back home, the reviews of her role in the White House aren’t much better. While President Trump has decided to go around anti-nepotism rules and make both Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, his top advisers, polls show Americans are not okay with this.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll over the weekend showed 61 percent of registered voters say Trump should not have put his daughter and son-in-law in his administration. Thirty-four percent say they approved of the decision.
Even about 1 in 5 Republicans (22 percent) and Trump voters (17 percent) are uncomfortable with the arrangement, and independents overwhelmingly oppose it, 65 percent to 29 percent.
The numbers echo a Quinnipiac University poll from last week. That survey showed 53 percent majorities said both Ivanka Trump’s and Kusher’s appointments, individually, were inappropriate. Just 36 percent said Trump’s role was appropriate, and 32 percent said the same about Kushner.
Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump, attends a panel of the W20 Summit in Berlin. It’s not just that people don’t like the Trumps. Ivanka Trump, in fact, had a higher favorable rating (36 percent) than unfavorable rating (31 percent) in Quinnipiac’s polling. And the number of people disapproving of this arrangement is higher than Trump’s overall disapproval.
Given that, it does seem that people have real concerns about nepotism and Ivanka Trump’s and Kushner’s qualifications for their jobs.
I wrote a few months back about why anti-nepotism laws exist, and why the giving senior roles to the presidential daughter and son-in-law could be problematic in the White House:
It traces back to the Kennedys. After President John F. Kennedy appointed his 35-year-old brother, Robert, as attorney general — a basically unprecedented move at the time, involving an office for which few thought the younger Kennedy was qualified — Congress in 1967 passed an anti-nepotism law.
… But it’s not completely clear whether this law applies specifically to White House staff. In other words, Kushner certainly couldn’t be a Cabinet secretary, but the Trump team seems to think he could be an adviser. And the possible precedent for that traces back to another famous political family: the Clintons.
When President Bill Clinton appointed his wife, Hillary, to head up his health-care efforts, the couple was sued. It wasn’t that the filers wanted to nail the Clintons for nepotism, but given that she could not be an official government employee under the law, they argued that the meeting of her health-care task force should be open to the public.
The appeals court decision that resulted [which concluded that Hillary Clinton did not break anti-nepotism laws but that her meetings should be public] might have given Kushner and Trump hope for getting around the law in 2016, though some experts are dubious.
Traditional concerns about nepotism include the idea that those benefiting haven’t earned their stature, that they become extensions of their relative and cannot be questioned by other advisers (you listening, Stephen Bannon?), and that they are afforded undue advantages if they pursue personal and political benefits after being appointed.
Whatever the chief concerns, it seems nepotism is something Americans do care about. And whatever they feel about Ivanka Trump and her husband, Americans start off with thinking they shouldn’t even be in the White House.