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Ever since Donald Trump took office, Ivanka Trump has been known to publicly flip-flop over issues when it comes to her father, alternately expressing support for him or condemning them whenever it's most convenient for her. It was just a few months ago, for example, that she took a stance that widely differed from her father's, when she said she believed Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore's accusers, going so far to say that "there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children," and that she had "no reason to doubt the victims' accounts."
But on Monday morning on the Today Show, when NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander asked Ivanka point-blank, "Do you believe your father’s [sexual misconduct] accusers?", Ivanka took an entirely different stance altogether, essentially saying there was no reason to believe victims whatsoever. After pausing and taking a deep breath, she said, "I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he’s affirmatively stated there’s no truth to it." Awkwardly smiling and even laughing seemingly out of discomfort, with her hands together as if praying, she continued: "I don't think that's a question you would ask many other daughters. I believe my father. I know my father, so I think I have that right as a daughter."
As painful as it might be for Ivanka to answer, Alexander's question is an appropriate one; her father is, after all, the President of the United States, and Ivanka previously not only vocally advocated for women's rights, and even recently expressed her support of Time's Up in a move that surprised and outraged many.
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Ivanka's situation is undeniably difficult—if she did concede any belief in any of the women's accusations, she'd not only be casting guilt on her family, but also on one of the most powerful men in the world, one who specializes in personal attacks and who, even though he in fact doesn't pay her for her role as a White House adviser, is for all practical purposes her employer. It's also unfair to hold her accountable for her father's actions, which of course weren't her own. What she definitely can be held accountable for, though, is the hypocrisy in repeatedly advocating for women's rights when her actions have never followed suit and have in fact been detrimental to the cause.
Even Ivanka seems to be realizing her hypocrisy. A month ago, she removed the words "advocate for the empowerment of women and girls" from her Twitter bio, instead describing herself as an "advisor to POTUS on job creation + economic empowerment, workforce development & entrepreneurship." The change sparked a barrage of online reactions, particularly as she made it days after the second Women's March. And while a couple of dozen characters in a Twitter bio may sound trivial, Ivanka's actions and public opinions ever since suggest she seems to have exonerated her for failing to advocate for women as she'd promised.
The first daughter is also among Trump's victims—he has a truly unsettling history of sexualizing and making disturbing comments about Ivanka in public, without her consent of course. It's unclear if Ivanka realizes that and is simply not in the position to speak out, or if she has written it off as Trump being Trump, but if she's going to continue to be involved in politics and public life, she does eventually have to make her stance on these issues clear.
In the meantime though, at the very least, Ivanka needs to realize just how irresponsible, damaging, and reductive it is to make comments like boiling down at least 16 separate accusations encompassing decades of sexual misconduct to a single "it," as if the many alleged instances of harassment were a single, isolated incident. Even more disturbing? Her new angle, which she expressed to Alexander: that the accused's word was enough, and that therefore hearing out the victims isn't even worth considering—something that even she, according to her comments just a few months ago, knew to be incorrect.