Between Donald Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian attorney who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, and Ivanka sitting in for her father at the G20 summit, the Trump kids are creating headaches for the White House.
Donald Trump’s unprecedented decision to hire his children to be among his closest advisers was always going to be a wild card move for him.
Knowing that they, like him, possessed no special areas of expertise with regards to public policy or even political strategy, Trump was determined to surround himself with close family members and even elevated his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to exalted West Wing status.
And now the White House is throwing Donald Trump Jr. under the bus.
On Sunday, Trump Jr. admitted that he met with a Kremlin-connected attorney in June 2016 because the woman claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The stunning revelation gives fresh evidence to the allegation that the Trump campaign was colluding with a foreign adversary during last year’s election.
During Monday's off-camera audio-only press briefing, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated the president only learned of his son's clandestine meeting "in the last couple of days."
REPORTER: When did the president learn that that meeting had taken place?
SANDERS: I believe in the last couple of days is my understanding.
REPORTER: Is he concerned about that, that the top leadership of his campaign would take a meeting with a Russian lawyer promising to give—
SANDERS: Look, I've been on several campaigns, and people call offering information, as I know many of you receive similar calls from people offering information. Don Jr. took a very short meeting, from which there was absolutely no follow-up.
The weak White House spin has been the Russian lawyer didn’t actually deliver the goods on Clinton, and that all she really wanted to do was talk about U.S./Russia adoption policy. In other words, no collusion to see here, move along.
But in trying to explain away the scandal, Trump Jr. explicitly conceded that three of Trump’s most trusted and senior advisers took a meeting with a Russian operative during the campaign specifically because the woman claimed to have damaging information about Clinton.
Meanwhile, at the G-20 Summit in Germany, Trump’s daughter Ivanka was inexplicably deputized and sat in for her father at the meeting of world leaders. She sat between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese President Xi Jinping during her father’s temporary absence.
The odd move came despite the fact Ivanka holds no official position in the U.S. government; she serves an unpaid adviser to his father.
“Trump’s presence was unusual given that government ministers or senior officials are typically the ones called to stand in for heads of state at such sessions,” the Washington Post reported.
The blatant move of nepotism produced a gusher of instant protest on social media.
Ivanka fills in for her dad beside Xi Jinping. To me, it feels banana-republicky for the US to be represented by an inexperienced daughter. https://t.co/lDDlyCeFp9
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) July 8, 2017
Sort of the whole point of America was that governmental authority was bestowed by the people not by birth https://t.co/2sE1a6Vlcr
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) July 8, 2017
Six months into his presidency and there’s no indication that Trump tapping his kids has paid off. In fact, over the last two days, the move has produced endless negative headlines. Even right-wing commentator Ann Coulter recently expressed dismay over the move: "That’s the one fascist thing he’s done. Hiring his kids."
There’s a reason none of the previous 44 American presidents deputized their children as senior advisers. And in the last 48 hours, those risks have exploded into headlines, as both Trump’s son Donald Jr. and his daughter Ivanka have found themselves at the center of controversies that continue to haunt the White House.