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On 'Fox & Friends,' Ivanka Trump Quashes Progressive Hopes


Ivanka Trump took a role in the White House a few months ago, and some people assumed then that the entrepreneur who talked about empowering women and expanding child care would be a moderating force on her father. As NPR's Vanessa Romo reports, there's now limited evidence for that.

VANESSA ROMO, BYLINE: Ivanka Trump is a lot of things - a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur, an Instagram goddess and First Daughter. But you know what she says she's not?


IVANKA TRUMP: I don't profess to be a political savant.

ROMO: That was her on Fox this week deflecting a question about the president's controversial tweets, and that was before the president's latest attack on MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski. But she also said this.


TRUMP: You know, I try to stay out of politics.

ROMO: It was an odd answer for someone with a West Wing office who's an adviser to the president. And it set off an intense backlash from critics who argue that she can't in one instance choose to be perceived as an influential voice within her father's inner circle and then in another simply be a woman concerned with issues.

JILL FILIPOVIC: When you're working for the president in the White House, it doesn't really seem like it should be an option.

ROMO: That's Jill Filipovic, a Trump critic and the author of "The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit Of Happiness." She believes Ivanka Trump has been positioned to tamp down the fears of moderates and women, a sort of salve for those concerned about the president's policies on everything from the environment to refugees to women's rights. But she thinks women are being bamboozled.

FILIPOVIC: Because what she's really doing is kind of putting a pretty face and a palatable face on what's a very, very ugly and very misogynist administration.

ROMO: She says that because it doesn't appear as though Trump has had many successes. Despite the First Daughter's efforts to sway the president on the Paris climate accord, he went the other way. In all of the advice she dispensed in her book "Women Who Work," she remained silent about reproductive rights. And despite touting that she'd be a champion for women's economic empowerment, just today, the White House announced it may dissolve the Council on Women and Girls.

DOUG WEAD: I think she's dynamic, needed and classy and inevitable.

ROMO: That is Doug Wead, a former White House adviser to George H.W. Bush and an author of several books on first families. He says inevitable because above all else, an inner circle needs to be filled by the most loyal staffers.

WEAD: It very quickly comes down to loyalty. They can be ideologically aligned, but if they haven't learned how to be disciplined, they quickly aren't needed.

ROMO: Plus, he says, it's still way too early to draw any conclusions about what Trump might accomplish by the president's side. Think of FDR and his daughter, Anna.

WEAD: We're only now learning how Anna Roosevelt practically ran the White House her last year in office.

TINA TCHEN: Well, here's what I also know about being a White House adviser. There's one person's political views that matter, and it's the president's.

ROMO: Tina Tchen agrees, and she was Michelle Obama's chief of staff. Remember that council that might get cut? That was Tchen's baby. Her take on Trump and really anyone who works for the president is simple.

TCHEN: If you're doing your job, you're not speaking out separately from the president of the United States because that's who you work for.

ROMO: She's got some advice for progressives and feminists who blame Ivanka for not being able to achieve more.

TCHEN: Ultimately the direction of the policy begins at the top. So it's never any one adviser. It really starts with the president.

ROMO: And this week, he stepped in controversy once again when it comes to women. Vanessa Romo, NPR News, Washington.


Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.