Ivanka Trump meets with, er, Al Gore on, er, climate change; Update: So does Trump

I remember reading this story a few days ago, thinking it was blogworthy, then ruling it out because the sourcing was simply too thin. One unnamed source says Ivanka Trump “wants to make climate change … one of her signature issues”? C’mon. How likely is that?

Pretty likely, as it turns out.

President-elect Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka is meeting on Monday with Al Gore — one of the most vocal advocates of fighting climate change.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters on a daily briefing call that the meeting would be about climate issues, but he did not know what specifically was on the agenda. He also said the former Democratic vice president would not meet with Trump himself…

Ivanka Trump is expected to take a policy role in her father’s presidency, and has supported ideas that are sometimes at odds with some Republican policy positions. During the campaign, Ivanka spoke in favor of a plan to support paid maternity leave and child care costs that became part of Trump’s platform.

This comes two weeks after dad told the New York Times that there may indeed be some “connectivity” between human activity and global warming and that he’s keeping an open mind on whether to keep the Paris climate accord in place. I guess we now know which influential Trump inner-circler to blame for that shift.

It’s not surprising that young urban liberal Ivanka Trump would want to pick Al Gore’s brain on his and the left’s pet issue. What’s surprising is that the transition team would announce it publicly. Why do that? Why didn’t she just call Gore? A showy meeting with him will only annoy right-wingers, and Trump himself usually doesn’t seem to care much about impressing the left, to his credit. Besides, Reince Priebus claimed just a week ago that Trump still sees climate change as mostly “a bunch of bunk.” The announcement feels less like something done at Trump’s behest than done at Ivanka’s behest, to signal to her political and social circles that she may be part of Team Trump but she’s not wavering in her own views. (The Politico story that claimed she wanted to make climate change her signature issue made a point of noting that she and her husband, Jared Kushner, took time during the campaign to attend an event in Aspen in September full of well-heeled bien-pensant liberals. She’s not breaking away from the old gang.) The Trumps are all about branding. Ivanka’s making sure her brand remains somewhat distinct from her father’s.

But maybe there’s more to it. The Politico piece wondered half-jokingly if she’d end up as Trump’s “climate czar.” The story itself, though, notes that she may end up as de facto First Lady, especially if it’s true that the low-key Melania Trump will end up spending much of her time in New York and out of the daily public eye. If someone’s going to play hostess at the White House and take the lead on championing FLOTUS-type causes — like climate-change “awareness” — Ivanka seems best suited given her visibility, her involvement with the campaign, and her political interests. Lo and behold, CNN is out with a story this morning noting that she and Kushner are moving to Washington D.C., in part because Kushner’s likely going to work as an advisor to Trump but possibly also to make it easier for Ivanka to have a role at the White House. And, uh, what about the fact that the more she participates in her father’s administration, the more conflict-of-interest problems it creates once she and her brothers take over the family business? That’s no problem either, as it turns out. The GOP simply doesn’t care about the president and his family using their offices to enrich themselves so long as the public doesn’t much seem to care either:

Indeed, the GOP is so easily dismissing Democratic threats of investigations and ethicists’ calls for divestment out of a belief that the political landscape has shifted. Voters rewarded Trump in part on the idea that success in business will equal success in government, and Republicans are therefore unwilling to encourage the president-elect to put distance between the Oval Office and Trump Tower, or between himself and the children who serve him as trusted advisers…

“The American people,” Gingrich added, “knowingly voted for a businessman whose name is inextricably tied to his fortune. … I’d say to the left wing, get over it.”

Go read the beginning of this piece about Ivanka sitting in on that Trump meeting with Shinzo Abe a few weeks ago while, at the same time, she was in the process of negotiating a licensing deal with a Japanese clothing company whose parent company has as its main shareholder a bank owned by the Japanese government. Think those photos released by the Japanese of her with Trump and Abe helped the deal any?

Exit question: Who’s the conservative voice in Trump’s inner circle? It’s obviously not Ivanka. Steve Bannon describes himself as a populist-nationalist. I … suppose we could call Reince Priebus a conservative, although I doubt you would have found many on either side of the conservative/nationalist divide willing to vouch for the head of the RNC before he was appointed chief of staff a few weeks ago. It was Reince’s shop, remember, that put out the “moar amnesty!” autopsy after Romney’s loss in 2012. The answer, I guess, is the same guy who recently said “the free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing … every time” and who weighed in with the following yesterday on ABC. Good luck with the new cap-and-trade regime, America.

Update: Per the article quoted above, Trump spokesman Jason Miller told the media this morning that Gore would be meeting with Ivanka Trump only, not the president-elect. Change of plans, though:

Did Ivanka lean on dad to hear out the Great Man on climate change? Or did Trump take the initiative?

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John Sexton 10:00 PM on June 02, 2023