Donald Trump has said his daughter’s prominent role at a G20 meeting of world leaders was “very standard”, in response to criticism of the move.
Apparently referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Trump claimed “Angela M” agreed it was normal for Ivanka Trump to fill in for her father at the meeting.
The US President argued that if Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea had filled in for her mother at the G20, she would not have come under such heavy fire.
According to a photograph of the G20 event, Ms Trump accompanied her father to a session at the Hamburg summit and later sat in his seat next to Ms Merkel, Theresa May and other world leaders. She did not say anything, however, according to reports.
A White House official later told US television network CNN: “Ivanka was sitting in the back and then briefly joined the main table when the President had to step out.”
Ms Trump serves as an unpaid adviser to the President in the White House and handles issues such as paid family leave and women’s empowerment.
The US President said on Twitter on Monday: “When I left Conference Room for short meetings with Japan and other countries, I asked Ivanka to hold seat. Very standard. Angela M agrees!
He later tweeted: “If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother, as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!”
Ms Clinton, 37, who was a regular presence during her mother’s presidential campaign last year, quickly responded to Mr Trump’s comments.
“Good morning Mr. President. It would never have occurred to my mother or my father to ask me,” she wrote on Twitter. “Were you giving our country away? Hoping not.”
After the meeting, Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters told MSNBC Ms Trump’s presence at the meeting “does not make good sense”.
“Here you have the President of the United States at the G20, representing us as the leader of the free world, and so he’s going to play politics and give his daughter a chance to have a place in the sun and to be seen at a very important meeting that she knows nothing about,” she said.
Zerlina Maxwell, a former director of media for Ms Clinton’s presidential campaign, told MSNBC: “It’s completely inappropriate. What qualifications and experience does Ivanka Trump have in her background that should put her at the table with world leaders like Theresa May and Vladimir Putin?”
She added that the incident was evidence of “inherent corruption” in Mr Trump’s administration.
Although it is commonplace for leaders to be replaced in meetings by officials when they have other commitments, it is unusual for their places to be taken by family members.
But Ms Merkel played down the significance of the move, telling a news conference: “The delegations themselves decide, should the President not be present for a meeting, who will then take over and sit in the chair.”
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