Ivanka Trump's Most Controversial Moments

The following article mentions sexual assault allegations.

Of all the Trump kids, there's arguably no other who has faced as much intense scrutiny as Ivanka Trump. Donald Trump's eldest daughter was thrust into the spotlight at an extremely young age, as her super rich parents' lavish lifestyle was showcased as aspirational and envy-inducing for fellow New Yorkers. Indeed, a young Ivanka was chased by the paparazzi when she was still in elementary school, and as a 15-year-old, was widely lambasted when she hosted Miss Teen America in 1997. Matters weren't exactly helped by Donald's strange dynamic with his prized first daughter, with the future POTUS making all manner of bizarre remarks about the young Ivanka.

So, when Donald announced his bid for the presidency in 2015, Ivanka was once again thrust into the spotlight. Appointed as an advisor to the president, Ivanka appeared determined to become part of the inner workings of her father's political world. 

Throughout her political career, Ivanka's been no stranger to courting controversy. "Suddenly, after my father declared his candidacy, it became that all the things that I was doing that I was praised for, the same people, the critics, viewed them through this different lens," she told The New York Times. "Somehow, all the same things they applauded me for as a millennial, as a female entrepreneur, were now viewed very cynically as opportunistic." But now that she has sworn off taking part in Donald Trump's 2024 campaign, let's take a look at Ivanka Trump's most controversial moments.

Ivanka Trump defended her father amid sexual assault allegations

There have long been accusations of sexual misconduct levied at Donald Trump. His ex-wife and Ivanka Trump's mom, Ivana Trump, accused him of sexual assault back in 1993. But when Donald ran for the presidency in 2016, multiple women accused him of groping or assaulting them decades earlier. Donald denied all the accusations. In an interview with CBS News in May 2016, Ivanka defended her father and insisted that it was not in his nature to grope women. "Well, look, I'm... not in every interaction my father has," she said. "But he's not a groper. It's not who he is."

But that October, Ivanka's comments were called into question when a 2005 video from Access Hollywood resurfaced, in which Donald bragged about being able to grope women with impunity. Though widely condemned for the remarks — including by his own party — the then presidential hopeful claimed that his comments amounted to little more than "locker room banter" in a statement provided to ABC News.

By 2017, more accusers came forward. Speaking to NBC News in 2018, Ivanka said that she believed her father was telling the truth. "I know my father," she insisted. "So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father." She also suggested that asking her about the assault allegations was an inappropriate line of questioning. Her comments led to widespread criticism, with outlets like Vox calling her out for being dismissive of the accusers' allegations.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Ivanka Trump left a Cosmopolitan interview after being grilled on her dad's policies

Donald Trump is no stranger to giving controversial interviews, and it appears the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. In 2016, Ivanka Trump sat down for an interview with Cosmopolitan, in which she praised her father's childcare and maternal leave policies.

However, when the interview took a slightly more critical turn, she went on the defensive. The outlet argued that the president's maternity leave plans were incongruous with statements he made in 2004, in which he claimed that pregnancy is bad for business. Asked what had changed in her father's view of working moms, Ivanka hit back. "I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions... My father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues," she responded. "So I don't know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you're going to make a comment like that." She added that her dad has a long track record of apparently being a proponent of women in the workforce. When grilled further, she left the interview abruptly. "I'm going to jump off, I have to run," she said.

Following the debacle, she was criticized for struggling to deal with what The Washington Post deemed a standard line of questioning. Meanwhile, Slate argued that Ivanka's hypersensitivity proved that she's more similar to her dad than she may want to admit.

Her use of a George Harrison song led to an outcry from his family

Politicians have a lengthy history of waltzing onstage to music without the artist's permission. Back in 1984, for instance, Ronald Reagan infamously used "Born in the USA" at a campaign rally, angering the left-leaning Bruce Springsteen. And Donald Trump himself has roused the wrath of a plethora of musicians. Everyone from Neil Young to much loved nu-metal band Linkin Park, who handed Don a cease and desist, have blasted the former president for using their music without permission.

But it's not just Donald who has angered musical artists. Ivanka has also been condemned for her unauthorized use of music at campaign rallies. In 2016, she appeared at the Republican National Convention, where she walked onstage to the George Harrison-penned Beatles track "Here Comes the Sun." Though she received rave reviews for her speech, which aimed to paint her father in a more favorable light, the late Beatle's family was dismayed at the use of his song.

On X, the Harrison estate took aim at Ivanka with little filter. "The unauthorized use of #HereComestheSun at the #RNCinCLE is offensive & against the wishes of the George Harrison estate," his family wrote. In a subsequent X post, the Harrison estate threw further shade at Ivanka: "If it had been Beware of Darkness, then we MAY have approved it! #TrumpYourself."

Ivanka Trump was criticized for promoting her fashion brand during the presidential election

Ivanka Trump is famed for her flair for fashion, and in turn launched her own clothing label, IT Collection, in 2014. But there is a time and a place for girlbossing and a political convention isn't it.

Following her speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016, Trump took her trending moment as an opportunity to promote her fashion line. Accordingly, she swiftly turned to X (then known as Twitter) to share a snap of her fit from the night with the caption, "Shop Ivanka's look from her #RNC speech," along with a link to Macy's. Inevitably, Trump's hustle was met with the side eye. Retweeting Trump's post, Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery wrote, "Telling, if least important, way Ivanka cynically exploits her role as white washer to white power campaign."

As The Wall Street Journal argued in 2017, the president's daughter often sported her own brand, with her products frequently selling out soon after. Accordingly, some questioned the ethics of Trump fusing politics with business interests. "Ivanka Trump is testing the boundaries on federal rules that bar government employees from using their position to promote brands that personally enrich them," presidential studies professor Guian McKee told the outlet. However, Trump insisted that she wasn't engaging in shameless self-promotion. "If what motivated me was to grow my businesses and make money, I would have stayed in New York and done just that," she argued.

Ivanka Trump roused the ire of New York artists

An art enthusiast with a collection worth a reported $25 million, Ivanka Trump gained publicity for showcasing her prized paintings on Instagram. But as Trump proved, not all publicity is good publicity. When Trump posed in front of a painting by Alex Da Corte, the artist commented (via Bloomberg), "Dear @Ivankatrump please get my work off of your walls. I am embarrassed to be seen with you."

Accordingly, the Instagram account dear_ivanka was launched in November 2016 by New York artists Alison Gingeras and Jonathan Horowitz. The account posted a photo of Trump, along with the caption, "Dear Ivanka, I'm afraid of the swastikas spray painted on my park." Speaking to The New Yorker, Gingeras said that she and Horowitz were motivated to create the account in the hope that they could appeal to Trump's artistic sensibilities, thereby getting her to denounce her father. "She frequents the art world, what's sometimes called 'the New York liberal bubble,'" Gingeras said. "So we already know we can speak with her, and we want to appeal to her personal stakes."

More artists joined the backlash and staged a protest outside the Puck Building, which is owned by her husband, Jared Kushner. The sculptor Jordan Wolfson said that he hoped Trump's need for social acceptance would encourage her to heed their message. "In four years, I'd love to see if Ivanka can get a reservation at a nice restaurant in New York," he mused.

She was booed for claiming her father is a women's advocate

As previously stated, Ivanka Trump has often claimed that her father is an ally to women, an assertion that has been met with cynicism to say the least. But when she espoused her father's supposed pro-woman stance during the 2017 W-20 summit in Berlin, the crowd was less than forgiving.

Ivanka was invited to the summit by the then Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. Her invitation was contentious from the outset, with journalists questioning why the president's daughter was being offered such a lofty political platform. "Ivanka Trump isn't elected, she is a daughter," Andrea Seibel, an editor at Berlin's Die Welt, told Politico. "She didn't say anything in the elections when he was saying nasty things about women and migrants. She is his voice, but somehow she has a nicer face."

During the panel, Ivanka was asked about her role within Donald Trump's advisory team. According to CNN's recap, she took the opportunity to once again praise her dad's supposed feminist leanings. "That is something I'm very proud of my father's advocacy, long before he came into the presidency, he championed this in the primaries," she said. "He's been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive." Her remarks were met with a ferociously negative reaction from the crowd, though she shrugged off the boos. "I'm used to it, it's fine," she said, adding that she believes people should be free to express different opinions without being ostracized.

She defended her dad after he claimed both sides were responsible for the Charlottesville attack

Of all the contentious remarks made by Donald Trump, few defined him as an alt-right figurehead as much as his response to the Charlottesville terror attack. In 2017, white supremacists held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which was met with protests. Neo-Nazi James Fields plowed his car into the counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old anti-Trump activist Heather Heyer.

In the aftermath, Donald stopped short of condemning the white supremacists, instead claiming that both sides were to blame for the deadly violence. "What about the 'alt-left' that came charging at, as you say, the 'alt-right,' do they have any semblance of guilt?" he said at a press conference, as reported by CNN. "You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now." He also claimed that some of the alt-right demonstrators were "fine people."

Though Ivanka Trump condemned white supremacy after the attack, albeit following a lengthy silence, there have been claims that she downplayed her father's rhetoric. According to the book "Kushner Inc." (via The New York Times), Donald's former economic advisor, Gary D. Cohn, sat down with Ivanka following the controversial remarks. "My dad's not a racist; he didn't mean any of it," Ivanka reportedly said after her father made his "both sides" argument. "That's not what he said."

Ivanka Trump was condemned for her seemingly insensitive response to migrant family separation

In 2018, Donald Trump once again faced widespread condemnation when he unveiled his plan to separate migrant children from their parents. Some likened the policy to state-sanctioned child abuse, while others pointed out the detrimental effects family separation has on children's mental and physical health. As a children's advocate, many expected Ivanka Trump to denounce the policy. But she remained silent in the wake of the announcement of the proposals.

She was also accused of flagrant insensitivity for posting an Instagram photo of herself lovingly holding her child, while migrant kids were being separated from their parents. "This is so unbelievably tone deaf," academic Brian Klaas wrote on X, "given that public outrage is growing over young kids being forcibly ripped from the arms of their parents at the border — a barbaric policy that Ivanka Trump is complicit in supporting."

On her show "Full Frontal," comedian Samantha Bee castigated Ivanka over the post. "You know, Ivanka, that's a beautiful photo of you and your child," she said, "but let me just say, one mother to another: Do something about your dad's immigration practices, you feckless c***. He listens to you!" Bee's use of the c-word led to Donald calling for her dismissal from ABC. In the aftermath of the backlash, Ivanka went on to voice her opposition to family separation. "That was a low point for me," she admitted during a conference, according to CNN.

Ivanka Trump and her husband were criticized for raking in millions in outside income

After joining the Trump administration in 2017, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, earned a whopping $82 million in outside income. These earnings were partly comprised of Ivanka's share in Trump International Hotel and Kushner's Quail Ridge apartment complex, among numerous other business dealings.

However, spokesperson Peter Mirijanian insisted that these outside earnings did not breach ethics rules. "Since joining the administration, Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump have complied with the rules and restrictions as set out by the Office of Government Ethics... Their net worth remains largely the same, with changes reflecting more the way the form requires disclosure than any substantial difference in assets or liabilities," Mirijanian said in a statement to The Washington Post. They continued generating huge amounts of additional income towards the end of the Trump presidency. During the couple's time serving in the White House in 2019 alone, they made $36.2 million.

Although the couple were found not to be in breach of ethics rules, they were criticized for generating such a huge revenue while working for the government. For instance, NBC News argued that all anti-nepotism regulations had been tossed out in favor of Ivanka and her husband. Moreover, the pair have never made their tax returns public. "Outside of maybe Kellyanne Conway, you'd be hard pressed to find someone with such a blatant disregard for White House ethics rules as Ivanka Trump," the outlet argued.

She didn't vote in the primaries

As an avid supporter of her father, one would have expected Ivanka Trump to cast a ballot in the presidential primaries. But along with her brother Eric Trump, she failed to vote in the New York primaries in 2016. This is due to the fact that neither had registered as Republican before the cut-off date, with both Ivanka and Eric having no explicit party affiliation at the time.

Though this was an embarrassing slip-up for the Trump clan, Donald Trump claimed that his kids weren't aware of the rules until it was too late. "They had a long time to register and they were, you know, unaware of the rules, and they didn't, they didn't register in time," he told "Fox & Friends." "So they feel very, very guilty."

During the family's appearance at CNN town hall, Ivanka blamed the snafu on New York's supposedly stringent voter registration policies. Pressed on her political affiliation, she stopped short of identifying as a Republican. "Well, I'm an independent, and I've always voted based on the candidate as opposed to based on the party, and it was actually a very interesting experience," she explained. "So, we're not a family of politicians. We haven't been in politics very long." The comments highlighted that Ivanka was likely a reluctant conservative. Indeed, she was previously a registered Democrat and has donated to Democratic politicians in the past. However, by 2020, Ivanka declared that she was a registered Republican.

She was accused of stealing shoe designs

In 2016, Ivanka Trump was sued by Italian brand Aquazzura for allegedly copying their designs. Aquazzura claimed that Trump's "Hettie" shoe was a clear copy of its best-selling "Wild Thing" sandal. Both the "Wild Thing" and the "Hettie" are red stilettos featuring a tassel around the strap and fringed accents. She was also accused of copying its "Forever Marilyn" and "Belgravia" heels. Trump's designs retailed for a fraction of the Aquazzura shoes. On Instagram, Aquazzura denounced Trump for supposed art theft. "One of the most disturbing things in the fashion industry is when someone blatantly steals your copyright designs and doesn't care," the brand wrote. "You should know better. Shame on you @ivankatrump! Imitation is NOT the most sincere form of flattery."

Co-defendant Matthew Burris claimed that the lawsuit was baseless, as multiple brands had designed shoes similar to the aforementioned styles. "[The Hettie shoe] is representative of a trending fashion style, is not subject to intellectual property law protection and there are similar styles made by several major brands," he told HuffPost. "The lawsuit is without merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against the claim."

However, in a statement provided to British Vogue, Aquazzura CEO Jean-Michel Vigneau said that Trump's alleged design theft set a dangerous precedent for artists. He also lamented that she was allegedly stealing designs from a smaller brand. In legal documents obtained by the Daily Mail, Trump denied the allegations. A court dismissed the lawsuit in November 2017.

She has been accused of racism

The Trump family is no stranger to racism accusations. Donald Trump has been accused of fueling racism on multiple occasions and even neglected to denounce the Ku Klux Klan's David Duke. eventually, however, Trump did acknowledge on "Morning Joe" that Duke is "a bad person.") Similarly, Ivanka Trump has faced accusations of racism.

In 2016, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti retweeted a quote by Ivanka in which she said that lewd comments made by her father were inconsistent with language her family typically uses. Peretti proceeded to claim that he once met Ivanka, during which time she made a crude remark about the genitalia of men of color. "Of course, it was memorable just because of the use of the lewd language and racist language," Peretti explained to BuzzFeed News. The account was corroborated by Peretti's wife. In a statement to the outlet, Ivanka vehemently denied the allegations and her team accused Peretti of instigating a smear campaign.

In 2021, she was once again accused of racial insensitivity when Vivica A. Fox recalled an interaction with Ivanka while on "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2015. Appearing on the E! series "For Real: The Story of Reality TV," Fox told Andy Cohen that Ivanka was surprised that she, as a Black woman, was intelligent. "I don't think she knew at the time she was insulting us," Fox said. "I think at the time she thought she was complimenting us." However, Fox later tweeted that she didn't believe the remark was racist.

Her pricey coffee date auction led to ethics concerns

There's no denying that Ivanka Trump is adept at hustling for her brand. But her commitment to self-promotion has led to hefty criticism. In 2016, she was denounced for auctioning off a coffee date for The Eric Trump Foundation, a privilege apparently worth $50,000 according to the auction site CharityBuzz (via BuzzFeed News). The highest bidder would win a 30-45 minute coffee date with Ivanka and proceeds were set to go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Bidding ended up reaching a whopping $72,888. One of the eager participants was investment manager Ozan M. Ozkural, who offered up nearly $60,000 for the surreal experience. Speaking to The New York Times, Ozkural admitted that his decision to take part in the auction was purely business motivated. "The nature of my business, we talk to a lot of different governments, a lot of politicians and lawmakers across the world," he said. "You end up getting a better sense of what the modus operandi will be."

However, the auction ended up being canceled due to concerns that the initiative could enable access to the Oval Office. For instance, former President Barack Obama was strictly prohibited from engaging in such charitable endeavors due to ethical concerns. "You never, ever want to have government officials using their public office for the private gain, even for a worthy charity," Norm Eisen, Obama's former ethics lawyer, told The New York Times. "That was how we did it."

She was accused of flouting lockdown rules

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all of us were supposedly united in our confinement to our homes. But in time, a number of wealthy celebrities proved that we really weren't all in this together (who can forget Ellen DeGeneres lamenting that her mansion was akin to a prison?). Subsequently, Ivanka Trump faced criticism for her response to the pandemic. In April 2020, the height of the coronavirus, she flouted lockdown rules by traveling to New Jersey to celebrate Passover. As BBC News reported at the time, the White House defended Trump, claiming that her travel plans were private, not commercial. However, New Jersey had implemented a stay at home order at the time.

That month, she faced further criticism when she offered some advice to those struggling amid quarantine. Writing on X, she suggested that bored folks should spend their time making shadow puppets. The ill-informed advice led to her being roasted by X users.

Towards the end of 2020, she began expressing cynicism towards lockdown measures. "These blanket lockdowns are not grounded in science," she wrote on X. "These arbitrary rules imposed by callous politicians are destroying lives." She was widely lambasted for the remarks, with the Citizens for Ethics accusing her of spouting misinformation. "It will never stop amazing us that in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century," the organization posted on X, "rather than turning to doctors and scientists, the closest advisors to the president were his fashion-brand owning daughter and her slumlord husband."