Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will donate a combined $100 million to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs that was the brainchild of Ivanka Trump.The announcement by World Bank President Jim Young Kim came during a visit to Saudi Arabia by President Trump, who was accompanied by his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
About a month ago, Ivanka Trump boasted about a new initiative: in addition to her White House duties, the president's daughter is helping raise money to "benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe." As part of the endeavor, Ivanka Trump had already begun soliciting contributions from international donors.It wasn't long before legal and ethical questions arose -- when the president of the United States' daughter starts asking for money from prospective donors abroad, scrutiny is inevitable -- prompting Ivanka Trump to make clear that the World Bank would manage the investment fund; she was merely championing the worthy cause.The story took an interesting turn over the weekend with new "pay-to-play" concerns. NPR reported:
Some context is in order. It was just last year, for example, that Donald Trump said he was outraged that the Clinton Foundation accepted charitable contributions from Saudi Arabia, which, the Republican said, wants "women as slaves" and to "kill gays." He added at the time, "Hillary must return all money from such countries!"And yet, here we are, watching Trump's daughter raising money by accepting a sizable charitable contribution from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.What's more, it's important to consider the motivation behind the donation. The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum noted, "The announcement that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will donate money to her fund was a 'pay to play' far more blatant than anything Hillary Clinton ever dreamed of."For Trump's defenders, the comparison is inapt, because the fund is managed by the World Bank, not Ivanka Trump. It's not a bad argument, but it misses the point.The American president's daughter has an office in the West Wing and advises her father on matters large and small. Foreign leaders and officials know this. Countries that wish to curry favor with this powerful and influential White House official/adviser/daughter realize that writing a generous check for the cause she's championing creates an opportunity to impress.We know this dynamic is important to Trump World because Donald Trump himself spent a year complaining about it on the campaign trail.