A crowd in Berlin booed Ivanka Trump Tuesday during a high-profile international summit on women’s entrepreneurship. But as cathartic as that was for her critics, the bigger story may have been what she told Axios’ Mike Allen on the sidelines that day. I say may because it’s difficult to make heads or tails of this short item Allen published Wednesday morning:
Ivanka Trump told me yesterday from Berlin that she has begun building a massive fund that will benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe. Both countries and companies will contribute to create a pool of capital to economically empower women. “The statistics and results prove that when you invest in women and girls, it benefits both developed and developing economies,” she said. “Women are an enormous untapped resource, critical to the growth of all countries.”
The report, along with a slightly more detailed follow-up from one of Allen’s colleagues, provides only the broadest of brush strokes: unnamed “government-linked investors in Canada, Germany and the Middle East” have already committed to contributing; the focus will be on “small and medium-sized companies;” and the fund will be managed by the World Bank. Or, at least, that’s according to Dina Powell, the former Goldman Sachs exec turned Ivanka adviser turned deputy national security adviser. The World Bank says details still need to be worked out. Ivanka Trump and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, however, did co-publish a Financial Times op-ed earlier this week advocating for more investment in women, so it does sound like the two are on the same general page on this topic. (Fun fact: Trump’s FT byline described her as “the first daughter of the US” and made no mention of her official, albeit poorly defined, role in her father’s administration.)
I’ve asked the White House for additional details but have not heard back. Without the specifics, we’re left with only two things: speculation and questions. As Talking Point Memo’s Josh Marshall put it shortly after the original Allen item published, Ivanka’s projects “sounds a lot like the Clinton Foundation,” only in this case one led by the president’s daughter, who also has a role in the White House. Imagine how Fox News would react in an alternative universe where White House adviser Chelsea Clinton was taking an active role in soliciting money from corporations and foreign governments. As it happens, this initiative coincides with the Trump administration’s effort to cut U.S. funding for the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, meaning Ivanka’s move resembles a push to privatize the promotion of women’s rights around the world.
For now, though, we’re left with questions—a lot of them. We’ll update this post if we get answers.
Update, 3:39 p.m.: The Washington Post spoke with the World Bank and got some more info about this effort, which appears to be in the very early stages. According to unnamed bank officials, “almost no details of the plan have been agreed to,” not even the fund’s name or its “specific mission.” No money has been raised, either. If the World Bank does agree to manage the fund, Ivanka would not be able to direct where the money went, according to the officials. She could, however, help raise money for it.
Update 6:00 p.m: Speaking on a background call with reporters this afternoon, a White House official told reporters that Ivanka would not fundraise for the still-unofficial fund. “She will not solicit funds,” the official said, according to the Post. “This is not a White House fund. This is not something that she will have any authority over in any way.”