President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to give daughter Ivanka Trump his seat at a G20 meeting and said that such a move—if made by Bill or Hillary Clinton for daughter Chelsea—would have been celebrated by the press.
Chelsea Clinton was quick to respond to Trump’s hypothetical, tweeting Monday that it “would never have occurred” to her mother or father to ask her to hold such a seat.
At the G20 Summit of world leaders in Hamburg, Germany last week, Ivanka Trump took the president’s seat at a working session on “Partnership With Africa, Migration and Health,” putting the first daughter-slash-presidential adviser squarely between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese President Xi Jinping. A number of journalists and other observers blasted the move as another instance of the Trump White House handing out power to the president’s unelected, unqualified family members.
Despite outrage from some corners of the Internet, summit host German Chancellor Angela Merkel brushed off the seat swap as normal, considering Ivanka Trump’s role in her father’s inner circle.
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“Ivanka Trump belonged to the American delegation, so that is in line with what other delegations do,” Merkel said. “And it is known that she works at the White House and carries responsibility for certain initiatives.”
In addition to alluding to the Clintons, Trump defended his daughter on Monday by citing Merkel’s apparent approval of the move.
Much of the criticism of Ivanka Trump was not necessarily based on her seat at one G20 meeting, but that she’s unqualified for the position—adviser to the president, despite no having to government experience—that put her at the summit to begin with. A senior European official who took part in the G20 talks told the Washington Post, “The very fact that his daughter is senior adviser smacks of the kind of nepotism not seen since John F. Kennedy named Robert F. Kennedy as attorney general.”
Trump’s tweet referencing the Clintons on Monday was also another instance of the president bringing up his one-time rival in a presidential election that occurred more than eight months ago.
One of his first tweets from the G20 mentioned—rather inexplicably—Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman and how “everyone” at the high-profile meeting was “talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA.”
Podesta responded by calling Trump a “whack job” and urging the president to get his “head in the game.”