It looks like Ivanka Trump is finally coming out of stealth mode. Ever since her father lost his job as president and she lost her job as special advisor to the president, Ivanka has been keeping a low profile in Miami and largely staying off social media.
On Tuesday, however, the former first daughter posted on Instagram and Twitter for the first time in eight months, showing off photos of herself distributing free food boxes to families upstate New York.
It was very good of Ivanka to take time out to volunteer, as she has quite a bit on her plate at the moment. On the same day that Trump chose to break her social media silence, New York attorney general Letitia James dramatically turned up the heat on her ongoing investigation into the Trump Organization.
In court papers filed on Tuesday, James accused the Trump Organization and Donald Trump of inflating the value of their assets to secure preferential loans and other economic benefits. The Trump Organization has released a statement calling James’s allegations “baseless”.
It’s not just the former president who is in hot water; the court filings also note that the investigation had uncovered incriminating information about Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka. A snippet from these allegations: “Until January 2017, Ms. Trump was a primary contact for the Trump Organization’s largest lender, Deutsche Bank. In connection with this work, Ms. Trump caused misleading financial statements to be submitted to Deutsche Bank and the federal government.”
To be clear: this is all still just an inquiry. If James finds enough evidence of wrongdoing, she can then decide to file a civil lawsuit. (Meanwhile, the Trump Organization is also under criminal investigation for tax fraud and there are various other lawsuits related to sexual assault allegations, inheritance, and whether Trump should be held personally liable for inciting the January 6 insurrection.)
And the Trump family isn’t just facing a flurry of lawsuits, they’re busy filing their own: last month the former president sued James in an attempt to stop her inquiry into his business practices on the grounds of political bias. Trump’s lawyers have also tried to block James from questioning Trump and his children under oath. (Although it should be noted that Eric Trump, executive vice-president at the Trump Organization, was questioned in October 2020. He reportedly invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 500 times.) The motions filed on Tuesday were to try and compel Trump and the kids to appear in sworn testimony.
In short, you can see why Ivanka – who has always managed her personal brand a lot more carefully than her blowhard brothers have – might decide now would be a good time to post photos online of her benevolently helping the poor. Particularly as Ivanka wasn’t just showing off her ability to haul boxes of apples in the snow, she was also calling out the fact that she’d teamed up with Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya for the initiative.
Ulukaya is something of a liberal darling; he’s a Turkish immigrant who has pledged much of his vast personal fortune to the Tent Partnership for Refugees, a charity he founded. He is one of the last people one might expect to align his brand with the Trumps. Still, it seems he and Ivanka are on chummy terms. Ivanka told the New York Post that the food drive “really evolved out of a discussion Hamdi and I had over lunch one day as the holidays were approaching and the dollar is going less far due to inflation”.
Ivanka may have helped fill a few stomachs last week but does she have any hope of changing hearts and minds? Can she regain the standing she once had amongst liberals?
Ivanka’s food photoshoot hasn’t been the only form of image management she’s been engaged in recently. She also seems to have been subtly distancing herself from her father. She didn’t attend his rally in Arizona last weekend and there have been various “leaked” reports lately that Trump’s reports that about the “stolen” 2020 election were driving Ivanka and Jared Kushner away.
Mary Trump, Donald’s estranged niece, has previously opined that she believes the former president’s adult children could very well sacrifice their father to save themselves. If that happens, I think I know who’ll be first in line to dob in dad. And, if all else fails, and Ivanka can’t fix her tarnished brand with food deliveries, she can always follow the lead of former White House aide, Hope Hicks, and join Celebrity Big Brother.