Meet the Trumps: the White House family business
New York (AFP) – Donald Trump spent his life running a family firm and the White House is no exception: the first 100 days have given his adult children an unprecedented role even if the first lady lives in the shadows.
Here is a look at the president’s tight-knit, wealthy celebrity clan, who with the arguable exception of his third wife appear comfortable in the spotlight and content to defy critics’ outrage about nepotism.
Gatekeepers Ivanka and Jared
Trump’s 35-year-old daughter Ivanka, a mother-of-three and ex model turned-businesswoman who reportedly has some Democratic friends — is reputedly Trump’s favorite child, and the woman most often seen at his side.
An unpaid adviser with an office in the West Wing, who with husband Jared Kushner still has investments worth up to $740 million, Ivanka is a routine fixture at meetings with visiting heads of state.
To many she is the de facto first lady, taking on duties traditionally carried out by a wife — from dialing up the International Space Station, to accompanying the Canadian prime minister to Broadway or attending the G20 in Berlin, provoking groans for defending her father.
She does all this looking immaculate in a parade of designer frocks, and posting glossy photographs of her family and White House moments to her 3.4 million Instagram followers.
The US press often portrays her and Jared as moderating influences over a president hot to temper, but there has been little evidence that their assumed progressive views have tempered policy decisions.
Sales of her clothing line, which she ran before moving to Washington, soared last year, but the brand was dumped by some department stores under pressure from activists demanding a boycott of Trump products.
Jared, 36, is one of the most powerful men in Washington, a “special advisor” with a widening portfolio of responsibilities spanning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America’s opioid epidemic and extending to a tour of Iraq before the secretary of state.
His widening role has been accompanied by reports of bitter infighting with right-wing ideologue and chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Orthodox Jewish and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, Kushner has no prior experience other than discretion, loyalty, running the family’s real estate business and publishing a New York magazine
Home guard Don Jr. and Eric
Unlike sister Ivanka who stepped down from the family business, Trump’s two eldest sons Don Jr. and Eric stayed behind in New York and run the Trump Organization in their father’s absence.
Technically not supposed to discuss business with their father, his refusal to divest completely from the sprawling group has been slammed by ethics experts. Both sons are happy to engage with the media.
Father of five Don Jr., 39, is thought to harbor political ambitions of his own. Eric, 33, has given a slew of interviews, suggesting that Ivanka influenced the missile strikes on Syria, calling nepotism a “factor of life” and standing by his father’s predilection for golf.
First lady who?
Melania, a 47-year-old former model from Slovenia and Trump’s third wife, is the first foreign-born first lady in two centuries.
Known for a fondness for European designer clothes, nude photo shoots in the past and taking a back seat, Melania lives in New York with 11-year-old son Barron and makes only fleeting public appearances.
Officially moving into the White House this summer at the end of the school year, she is considered a reluctant first lady who has been criticized for plagiarizing Michelle Obama and for her heavy accent.
More than half a million people signed a petition demanding she move straight to Washington or foot herself the bill for the $127,000-$146,000 a day security costs of staying behind in New York.
She settled a lawsuit with the Daily Mail that alleged she worked as an escort in the 1990s. She was most recently in the headlines for nudging her husband into raising his arm for the national anthem at the Easter egg roll.