‘Didn’t anticipate the reaction’: French apology for awkward Ivanka clip

Ivanka Trump at Osan Air Base with her father and Mike Pompeo.

Ivanka Trump at Osan Air Base with her father and Mike Pompeo. Photo: Getty

France has apologised for releasing a video of US President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, at last weekend’s G20 summit after the embarrassing clip went viral.

“We didn’t anticipate the reaction,” the French presidential palace said in a statement on Tuesday.

The video it posted to social media of Ivanka Trump’s seemingly stilted interactions with foreign leaders spawned international mockery and sparked questions about nepotism in the Trump White House.

In the clip, British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the group of leaders – which includes French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagard – while the first daughter agrees and responds.

There’s a strained reaction from the leaders, particularly Ms Lagard, who purses her lips and looks away.

The clip spawned a hasty hashtag (#unwantedIvanka) and thousands of online memes.

On Tuesday, an official with the Élysée – the French presidential palace – stressed that the French government often released clips of such moments at summits.

This particular one, the official told US website Politico, “took place in the leaders’ lounge right before the sessions on gender equality of which Ivanka was one of the keynote speakers, so it wasn’t anything more than a moment of exchange like there were 100 more [of] with other leaders.”

Ms Trump was officially invited to the Osaka summit to give a speech to the Special Event on Women’s Empowerment.

The official noted, however, that the clip was released at a time of “a larger narrative in the US about Ivanka’s diplomatic role and that goes beyond us, of course”.

Ms Trump, with her husband Jared Kushner, was a constant presence at her father’s side during last week’s trip to Asia. The couple were also present on Sunday, when Mr Trump met dictator Kim Jong-un at the demilitarised zone separating North and South Korea.

On the way back to the US, the first daughter also joined Mr Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on stage when the President visited Osan Air Base in South Korea.

“You know who else I have?” Mr Trump teased before her appearance. “Has anyone ever heard of Ivanka?”

Ms Trump, a designated White House adviser, has also joined her father on other foreign trips, including a state visit to Britain in May.

But her high profile during last week’s events in Asia raised eyebrows and prompted questions.

“It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification,” Trump critic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman, tweeted on Monday.

“It hurts our diplomatic standing when the President phones it in & the world moves on. The US needs our President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat couldn’t hurt either.”

A White House deputy communications secretary, Jessica Ditto, called the video clip a “misrepresentation” and criticism surrounding it “absolutely pathetic”.

“It is sad but not shocking that the haters choose to attack Ivanka Trump, a senior adviser to the President, when she is promoting US efforts to empower women through strategic partnerships with world leaders,” she said.

Topics: Ivanka Trump
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