Family business

Trump’s inner-circle children now a target

At various times in history, U.S. presidents have relied on their children for more than familial love. James and Elliott Roosevelt supported FDR in every sense of the word—he’d lean on them to appear to be walking—while their older sister, Anna, served as a companion and confidant in his final term. Webb Hayes acted as the chief-of-staff equivalent to his father, Rutherford B. Hayes; John Eisenhower worked as an assistant to his dad, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Now, of course, we have Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, as official staff members in Donald Trump’s administration; plus Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, whom the president left in charge of the family business, as unofficial spokesmen. All played integral roles in their father’s campaign. POTUS hires family members because, as Eric Trump recently told a Scottish reporter, “you trust the people who are closest to you … [and] he is going to trust someone who he trusts implicitly…. Family business is a beautiful thing.”

Just because something is unprecedented doesn’t mean it’s always justified—and Trump may well be having employer’s remorse.

First, the president earned horrible headlines by sending his daughter into a G20 meeting of world leaders, as if Ivanka were a peer of Angela Merkel. Then news broke that Donald Jr., Kushner and former campaign chief Paul Manafort met with a Russian prosecutor last summer at Trump Tower to receive compromising information on election opponent Hillary Clinton. Donald Jr. did not dispute the report; in fact, he released an email chain making the intent quite clear. The president’s response: a statement saying, in its entirety, “My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency.”

Trump significantly damaged America’s standing in the world at the G20 summit. He conceded much to Russia in his sit-down with Vladmir Putin; the faux pas with Ivanka is just icing on the mud pie. What Donald Jr.—and, apparently, Kushner—did significantly damaged any integrity the Trump presidency could have hoped to maintain on the Russia scandal.