Americans have always discussed the president's children. For a nation that rebelled (literally) against hereditary rule, the public has never taken its eyes off the first family.
Some have made themselves harder to ignore than others, such as when Theodore Roosevelt's daughter Alice attended parties draped in a garden snake or Tad Lincoln's habit of keeping goats in the White House. Yet even by those standards Donald Trump's family stands out. George W. Bush's daughters may have faced legal troubles, but he never relied on them to negotiate with foreign governments nor helped them personally profit from his office.
In American history this relationship is unique.
As Trump's advocates point out, every U.S. president and their family do well by the Oval Office. A president's child has access to opportunities few other parents can offer, while former officeholders publish best-selling memoirs and hold a lofty place in global affairs. But these benefits come as a byproduct of office, not as a direct manipulation of it.
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No other first family has used press conferences to advertise their personal merchandise, as both Ivanka and Donald Trump have done. None have funneled federal spending into their own properties. Rather than distancing themselves from their business interests, Trump and his family have spent on themselves and encouraged others to do the same.
This is true of Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. With no previous experience in policy or government both have received security clearances and high-level roles in both domestic and foreign affairs. Taking after the patriarch, they have not squandered this opportunity.
What Is Ivanka Trump's Net Worth?
The numbers on this vary.
According to public documents reported on by the New York Times, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are worth approximately $786 million. This is the figure they reported in their 2018 financial disclosures. In this same document they reported up to $135 million worth of income during that year, however, they reported this income in a range. It could have been as high as $135 million in 2018, but possibly as low as $29 million.
Much of this money comes from Jared Kushner, whose main source of income is his family's real estate business. Ivanka Trump herself earned between $6.7 and $10.7 million, approximately $4 million of which came from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Despite public disclosures, however, a good deal of doubt surrounds the couple's net finances. Outlets such as Business Insider, for example, have reported their actual wealth at $1.1 billion in total assets, while tabloid magazines put their fortune at over $800 million.
The Difficulty With Estimating Ivanka Trump's Wealth
There are several problems when it comes to figuring out the finances of Ivanka Trump and her husband.
Arguably the biggest obstacle is that most reporting on the couple's finances relies on self-reported disclosures.
Now, it is true that these disclosures are required by ethics rules and that it is illegal to lie on these forms. Yet in the past both Trump and Kushner have struggled with full disclosure in this regard. Both have been cited numerous times for omitting required information on disclosures, most notably Kushner's failure to report significant foreign financial ties when he applied for a security clearance.
This past is relevant because neither couple has corrected a disclosure form without first having the missing information discovered by a third party. They have updated and amended when caught, typically by the news media, but have never done so until that information was already public.
Given this history, it's reasonably possible that the publicly available information about the couple's net worth is incomplete in ways that simply haven't been caught yet.
While the couple's income can be assessed precisely, their net worth is another factor. This is a measure of their total value, not just how much cash they have on hand but how much wealth they collectively own. This includes assets such as stocks and other investments. It includes art holdings (often significant for the wealthy), land and other real estate, percentages of any business that they may own and anything else of significant value.
All of these assets are inherently hard to measure.
A painting, for example, might add millions to someone's net worth, but it is still nothing more than a collection of paint and canvas. It is worth only what the next buyer will pay for it. This means that the painting's owner will assess its present value as either how much they paid for it (potentially undervaluing the asset since most art tends to appreciate) or how much they think someone else will pay for it (making this a best-guess value).
The same is true of many high-value assets. Figuring out the net worth of a couple like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner involves assessing the value of assets that won't, really, have a firm price tag until they go up for auction. It's a judgment call with plenty of room for error.
Then there's the couple's income assets.
Despite formally winding down her fashion line in 2018, Ivanka Trump maintains a wide range of business interests. As noted above, she has a stake in her father's real estate business and earns income from his Washington, D.C., hotel. She also maintains an active presence as an independent businesswoman while also serving in the White House, rejecting the precedent (but not legally required) that members of a presidential administration exclusively serve the country.
This is in addition to Ivanka Trump's work as an author and speaker, among other roles. Her book "Women Who Work" alone has earned several hundred thousand dollars since publication, and its total value remains speculative.
This is true, too, of Jared Kushner who also serves as an adviser to the president. He continues to work with his family's real estate company, the income from which is his chief form of income.
As with any entrepreneur or business-person, net worth is complicated by business interests. It is easy to identify how much reported income someone made off a given business in a given year, but much harder to value how much their stake in that business is worth. Jared Kushner's share of his family real estate business, for example, has a certain value. Calculating that value, in light of both its present value and its future income-generating value, is a more speculative act.
Post-Presidency Net Worth
It is impossible to address the net worth of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner without discussing the degree to which they have been enriched through and during Donald Trump's presidency.
This is extraordinary behavior. In all modern history presidents have required that members of their administration separate personal and business holdings from their official duties. This norm has held to the extent where, during the administration of George W. Bush, Republicans reacted with outrage at the merest suggestion that officials such as Dick Cheney had steered policy toward personal enrichment.
The Trump administration has operated under different rules. As The Week's Ryan Cooper recently documented, Donald Trump himself has systematically redirected millions of dollars in federal spending toward his own properties and has tacitly (if quite effectively) encouraged foreign governments to do the same thing. His real estate company bills the U.S. millions for Donald Trump's numerous vacations and golf trips, and then millions more for the secret service infrastructure necessary to protect the president while there.
All of which is context for the behavior of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Despite public assurances that they only serve as presidential advisers, both continue to operate their personal businesses and brands. As Vanity Fair has well-chronicled, Ivanka Trump often leverages her position to make connections for her own brand and frequently conducts personal business while on government trips.
Most recently, while on a state visit to China, Ivanka Trump negotiated approval for a series of personal trademarks from the Chinese government.
Kushner's business entanglements have raised similar, if not even greater, concerns. As GQ reported earlier this summer, since Donald Trump took office, Cadre, a small real estate company partially owned by Kushner, has collected more than $90 million from foreign investors. These are among a series of investments that the company has taken in. What was once a struggling concern has surged in value since the Trump family took office.