Trump was spotted sitting in her father's seat Saturday at a working session on “Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health.” A picture shared on Twitter by a Russian attendee but since deleted shows her seated between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese President Xi Jinping. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sat one seat away.
Her presence at the high-level table was somewhat unusual, given that government ministers are typically the ones called to stand in for heads of state at such sessions, The Washington Post's Abby Phillip wrote. A spokesman for President Trump's eldest daughter told The Post that she “briefly joined the main table when the President had to step out.”
It does not appear that Trump spoke at the session, but her presence at the table was met with widespread criticism on social media.
Some say it further blurs the line between family and political affairs in the Trump administration. Ivanka Trump serves as an adviser to her father. She and her husband, Jared Kushner, also an adviser, are both powerful figures in the White House and have accompanied the president on his foreign trips.
Others came to her defense and said the outrage is an overreaction.
In an interview with “Fox and Friends” last week, Trump said she tries to stay away from politics, despite having a White House role that has expanded since she became a volunteer “assistant to the president,” a job without pay that carries ethical obligations . In a statement addressing concerns about her role as the president's adviser, she said:
I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the President in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House Office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees. Throughout this process I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role.
Her participation at the G-20 summit was not the first time she was criticized for her role in her father's administration. For instance, her presence at a November meeting between her father, then president-elect, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately raised questions about possible conflicts of interest.
Why the hell is Ivanka Trump sitting in for daddy at G20 meetings?! What are her qualifications? Who voted for her?— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) July 8, 2017
Having Princess Ivanka represent US at G20 table a slap in face to other G20 leaders, other top admin officials, American people. Grotesque.— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) July 8, 2017
Critics have also said that although she's taken on progressive issues such as paid parental leave, child care and female empowerment, she has done little to moderate her father's nationalistic policies and has yet to publicly comment on the Trump administration's more controversial policies on immigration or climate change. Her defenders said that Trump, who's navigating an uncharted territory for a first daughter, has been unfairly criticized and held to impossible standards.
In a recent interview with The Post defending her White House role, Trump said her job is to inform and support her father, not to make him commit to something he's not interested in.
“I am not sort of trying to selectively curate information that will lead him to agree with me,” she said. “Debate is good.”
Ivanka Trump: A life in the spotlight
President Trump also has repeatedly praised his older daughter, and acknowledged on Saturday that being a part of his administration has placed her in a difficult position.
“If she weren't my daughter, it would be so much easier for her,” President Trump said. “Might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth.”
The G-20 summit is not the first time she has accompanied her father on his foreign trips. During their trip to Saudi Arabia in May, Trump spoke at a roundtable about women's rights and empowerment.
At the summit in Hamburg, she and her husband participated at a bilateral meeting with Merkel. Trump and her father also participated in a World Bank session on women's entrepreneurship.
Abby Philip contributed to this story.
See President Trump as he travels abroad for the G-20 economic summit