It was a night to celebrate strong women. Amy Schumer was the host, Caitlyn Jenner was honored and the guests included Arianna Huffington, Madeleine Albright and the actress Reese Witherspoon.
They also included Ivanka Trump.
When the crowd at Glamour’s Women of the Year event on Nov. 9 sat down for dinner at the Rainbow Room, a person at Ms. Trump’s table asked the question that others were no doubt thinking: What would her father, who was being pilloried for remarks that struck many as misogynistic, make of her attending an event like this?
Ms. Trump quickly broke the strained silence by saying that she was her own person. Soon after, she and her friend Wendi Deng — Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife — left.
A spokesman for Ms. Trump said she went home not because she was uncomfortable, but because it was late and she had two small children. But it was an awkward collision of the two worlds she inhabits: One as a 30-something Manhattan socialite and role model to young professional women, the other as Donald J. Trump’s oldest daughter, biggest champion and perhaps most valuable asset.
A lot of women have come and gone over the course of Mr. Trump’s life. But through his two high-profile divorces, numerous public romances and three marriages, Ivanka Trump has remained a constant.
In interviews, the Trumps, their friends and people who have done business with them described Donald’s and Ivanka’s relationship as especially close, with Ms. Trump holding an exalted position in the family, in their company, and even in the campaign.
Among the Trump children, she is the acknowledged favorite: “Daddy’s little girl,” as her older brother Donald Jr. once described her. When Ms. Trump and her father are not together, she said, they speak as often as five times a day.
In the Trump family business, he has given her a level of authority none of his wives, or for that matter executives, have ever had. She handles some of the Trump Organization’s biggest deals, including its acquisition of the Doral Resort in Miami, and its agreement to convert the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., into a luxury hotel.
And with Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, the Slovenian former model, less than comfortable on stage, Ivanka Trump has served as a surrogate political spouse for a candidate who may need one more than anyone else in the race.
Cutting a starkly different image from Mr. Trump’s more combative and impulsive public supporters, like Chris Christie or Sarah Palin, not to mention the candidate himself, Ms. Trump, 34, radiates disciplined poise and practiced reserve. While her father uses Twitter as a grenade launcher, she treats her well-tended social media feeds, which are notably politics-free, as marketing tools for the Trump Organization and her own line of women’s clothing and accessories.
On March 15, with her father in the midst of a political clear-cutting through Florida while facing accusations of stirring up racially charged violence at his rallies, she posted a photograph on Instagram highlighting the @TrumpHotels creative team in Waikiki under a serene image of a woman relaxing in a sun-dappled pool.
It was a fitting image for a devoted daughter who exists as an almost surreally detached counterpoint to her father’s bellicosity, and yet may be his most important ally, particularly if he finds himself facing a Democratic opponent who aspires to be the first female president of the United States.
Ms. Trump tried to do damage control after her father seemed to have made reference to Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle. She was the unlikely star of a CNN town hall program last week with the Trump family, talking about how her father had encouraged and empowered her. And in a recent interview at Trump Tower, Ms. Trump attacked, however gently, her father’s critics.
“What bothers me is how rash people are to make claims as if they knew him and they knew his viewpoint on certain topics,” she said. “My father has an enormous heart and truly loves people — all people.”
Inside her father’s campaign, which has brazenly eschewed the advice of political experts, Ms. Trump is one of a few people who can, on occasion anyway, influence the candidate’s thinking. She failed to persuade Mr. Trump to apologize for accusing Mexico of sending its “rapists” over the border, according to a person close to Mr. Trump who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak for the campaign. But, this person said, she successfully convinced her father to maintain his qualified support for Planned Parenthood in the face of Republican criticism.
“I think her father really listens to her, and when I say listens to her I mean I think her father respects her a great deal, and not just because she’s his daughter,” said Carl Icahn, a longtime friend of the Trump family. “I don’t say that lightly. I have a lot of wealthy friends who have kids and a few of them stand out, but not that many.”
Born to Run an Empire
Ms. Trump is the second of three children from Mr. Trump’s marriage to Ivana, a former model from the former Czechoslovakia. She was 8 when she learned about her father’s affair with Marla Maples from the horde of photographers waiting for her outside the Chapin School on the Upper East Side. “Love on the Rocks,” read the front page of the New York Daily News in the first of many stories about their contentious split.
In the public imagination, Mr. Trump had become a symbol of greed and excess. To Ms. Trump, he remained a doting father. And unlike Donald Jr., who did not speak to their father for a year, Ms. Trump never blamed him for the divorce.
At Chapin, a close friend recalled, Ms. Trump would check in with him almost every day, calling him — collect — from a pay phone tucked away in a janitor’s closet. On weekends, he often brought her to visit his various construction sites, or whisked her and her friends off to Palm Beach with him on his jet to play golf and order room service at Mar-a-Lago.
After eighth grade, Ms. Trump’s parents sent her to boarding school at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut.
In college, she was featured prominently in the 2003 documentary “Born Rich,” as part of a cast of heirs and heiresses reflecting on their extreme privilege. Most of her co-stars spoke about the corrupting influence of wealth on their young lives. By contrast, Ms. Trump seemed to idealize her family, speaking about how proud she was of her parents and the Trump name, and showing off her childhood bedroom, with its sweeping view of Central Park.
“There was no hint of teenage rebellion on or off the screen,” recalled the film’s producer, Dirk Wittenborn. “She had a message to deliver and she delivered it.”
Ms. Trump sought a degree of independence, taking up modeling in part to have her own spending money. (“She’s got the best body,” Mr. Trump said of his daughter to Howard Stern in 2003. “She made a lot money as a model — a tremendous amount.”)
But she never strayed far from her father. After Ms. Trump’s sophomore year at Georgetown, she transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, majoring in real estate. She would soon go to work for the Trump Organization.
A childhood friend of Ms. Trump’s, Tamara Goldstein, remembers standing on the roof of Trump Tower with her in the summer of 2004, shortly after they had both graduated from college.
“How amazing is it that I have an opportunity to change the actual landscape of this skyline,” Ms. Goldstein recalled Ms. Trump saying.
Over the years, Ms. Trump began to assume more responsibility and autonomy within the family business.
“In the past, he’d have 10 deals going with lots of different lawyers and nondescript employees,” said Thomas Barrack, a real estate investor who sold the Plaza Hotel to Mr. Trump in 1988 and has remained close to the family since. “But nobody really had the authority to do anything. That all changed with Ivanka.”
Her father still has the final say over what to buy and how much to pay for it, but Ms. Trump now personally negotiates almost all of the company’s major deals.
“She is very, very trusted by me,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “She has great real-estate instincts and great political instincts.”
Those who have sat across the table from her describe her as atypically calm and even-tempered in an industry often characterized by threats and bluster.
“She’s been thrust into this environment of high-testosterone real-estate males, and she never loses her cool,” said Michael Ashner, the chief executive of Winthrop Realty Trust, which sold the Doral to the Trump Organization in 2011 for $150 million.
In CNN’s Trump family interview last week, Ms. Trump cited her power within the family business to defend his attitude toward women. “So for me, his actions speak louder than the words of many politicians who talk about gender equality but it’s not evidenced in their daily employment practices,” she said.
Her style may be more low-key than her father’s, but like him, Ms. Trump has also been accused of engaging in hyperbole. A 2010 lawsuit claimed that she, as well as her father and older brother, had in public statements drastically overstated the number of units that had been sold in Trump SoHo to make the luxury condominium project appear financially healthier than it really was.
Mr. Trump and his co-defendants settled the case, agreeing to refund 90 percent of the plaintiffs’ deposits, while admitting no wrongdoing.
And Ms. Trump ran into some trouble with her own business recently, when 20,000 of her Ivanka Trump-brand scarves were recalled for violating the United States’ flammability standards. They, like some of her father’s own clothing products, were manufactured in China, the kind of outsourcing Mr. Trump is fond of criticizing on the stump.
From Park Avenue to Politics
Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were married in 2009 at the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey. To marry Mr. Kushner, Ms. Trump had converted to Judaism under an Orthodox rabbi, and she recalled her father wearing a skullcap beneath a huppah erected on the 18th green. Guests were given white flip-flops with the words “Jared” and “Ivanka” engraved on the insoles.
Mr. Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, had also made a fortune in real estate and was a Democratic power broker in New Jersey. But he was perhaps better known for his fall than his rise. Not long before Jared Kushner and Ms. Trump met, Charles Kushner went to prison for tax fraud, election law violations and witness tampering. Among other things, he had hired a prostitute with a hidden camera to entrap his brother-in-law.
Ms. Trump and her husband now live in a penthouse on Park Avenue with their three young children. Jared Kushner is also doing his part to help sand his father-in-law’s rough edges. He has made phone calls on Mr. Trump’s behalf to influential Republicans, while the newspaper Mr. Kushner owns, The New York Observer, has been championing his candidacy.