Ivanka Trump has been pictured in Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump Tower on November 17, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
US President-elect Donald Trump has come under further criticism for involving his family members in his political duties after his daughter Ivanka has been pictured attending a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Japanese government released photos of a meeting between Trump and Abe on Thursday evening at Trump Tower in New York, showing the billionaire’s daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, were present at Trump’s very first meeting with a world leader.
The presence of Ivanka Trump, who has no government security clearance, only became public because the Japanese government released photos.
Abe, who said after the meeting that he had a “very candid discussion” with the president-elect, did not discuss who else attended the gathering.
Trump released a separate photograph of himself and Abe on Facebook with a caption saying, “It was a pleasure to have Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stop by my home and begin a great friendship.”
He had barred members of the press from attending the meeting; this also raised criticism that he will not honor White House traditions of transparency as president.
“This is not the way we behave in the world’s leading constitutional democracy,” says Norman Eisen, special counsel and ethics adviser to President Barack Obama between 2009 and 2011. “It’s like something out of a tin-pot oligarchy.”
He described Ivanka and Kushner’s presence at the meeting as “shocking” and unprecedented.
“If you’ve got one member of the power couple—Jared Kushner, whispering in the President[-elect]’s ear—and if you’ve got the other, the wife and daughter, who is running businesses, it merges the Trump Organization and the United States into one huge conglomerate managed by the Trumps for their own interests,” he added.
When asked by the New York Times about Ivanka’s presence at the meeting with the leader of one of the key allies of the US, an individual close to the family who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she would not be attending meetings like this in the future.
“Trump has always encouraged Ivanka and his children to attend meetings with him,” the Times quoted the person as saying. “This meeting in question was very informal. However, they obviously need to adjust to the new realities at hand, which they will.”
A former State Department official, Moira Whelan, however, said, “Meeting of two heads of state is never an informal occurrence.”
She said that anyone present for such a conversation between two heads of state should, at a minimum, have security clearance and should also be an expert in Japanese affairs.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Trump’s son-in-law, Kushner was consulting a lawyer to find out how he could join Trump’s forthcoming administration. Kushner also lacks government security clearance.
Although the President of the United States isn’t bound by the federal conflict of interest law, he is under fire by several lawyers, including those who are part of the Republican Party, for “this unprecedented blurring of lines,” Eisen said.