News World Ivanka Trump’s rise could sideline ‘irrelevant’ First Lady
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Ivanka Trump’s rise could sideline ‘irrelevant’ First Lady

Eric Trump (far left) with brother Donald Trump Jr., sister Ivanka and US President Donald Trump. Photo: AAP
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A US politics expert has dubbed Melania Trump as the “least relevant” First Lady in recent history as First Daughter Ivanka secures an increasingly powerful role in her father’s administration.

While Mrs Trump’s role in the new administration is still raising questions among White House watchers, she has secured one recent victory.

Britain’s Daily Mail has agreed to pay her an undisclosed sum and issue an apology after it published an article saying the US first lady had offered “services beyond simply modelling” in her former job.

President Donald Trump’s wife, 46, had sued the publisher of the Daily Mail in Britain and also filed a $200 million lawsuit against it in New York, claiming the article had cost her millions of dollars in potential business.

A person familiar with the situation said the settlement was worth less than $4 million, including legal costs and damages.

First lady’s role

But onlookers are still pondering the role Mrs Trump will play following the popularity and public prominence of her predecessor Michelle Obama.

Melbourne University US politics lecturer George Rennie told The New Daily there was “no question” Ivanka played a major role in the United States’ decision to bomb Syria in response to the gas attack, following Eric Trump’s assertion of Ivanka having influenced the military action.

Mr Rennie said despite not being the only First Lady to take a backseat role, Melania was the “least relevant” First Lady in recent presidential terms.

“There is no question that in terms of decision-making in the White House, Melania’s power is as close to zero as you could expect to see from a First Lady. She plays a pretty minor role,” he said.

“And this is supported by the fact that she isn’t even in Washington.

“Donald Trump spends most days in Washington and his weekends in Florida. Melania is rarely there. But while on most days he doesn’t see his wife, on most days Trump does see Ivanka.”

Some Ivanka fans described Melania as the “fifth wheel” in a photo posted on Twitter of the First Lady posing alongside her husband, Ivanka, and Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan during the leader’s visit to the US.

“Wow… shameless photobomb. I wonder how Melania really feels about being the fifth wheel? Is she getting fired as First Lady?”, one critic wrote.

Is Melania Trump the "fifth wheel" in this picture?
Is Melania Trump the “fifth wheel” in this picture? Photo: Twitter

‘Trump’s favourite child’

“Ivanka is a globalist influence on her dad,” Mr Rennie said.

“Through all his faults, Trump does really value his family. And of all of his kids that he is most proud of, it’s not Donald Trump Jr, it’s Ivanka. She is the one who has the brains in that family.

“Even looking back to Celebrity Apprentice, Ivanka would always phrase her critiques with such poise and intelligence, and Trump would always be incredibly praising of her.

“So, who’s Trump’s favourite kid? Well, it’s Ivanka.”

Mr Rennie said Ivanka’s influence was not unprecedented, pointing out that nepotism has always existed in politics.

Eric Trump backs his sister

Eric Trump told the Telegraph he was “sure” Ivanka, being a mother with three children, would have reacted to the Syrian gas by telling her dad: “Listen, this is horrible stuff.”

“She has influence,” Eric said.

“Ivanka is by his side in Washington. She is not involved in everything. I think she comes and goes with issues she deeply cares about, but when you get to a certain level of power a lot of times, and you see this in business too, a lot of times people will say ‘yes’ just because you happen to be the boss.”

– with agencies

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