When you are an over-leveraged real estate mogul with tons of debt and not many lenders anxious to shore up your finances, it helps to have friends high up in the financial world.
For Donald Trump, his improbable election as president of the United States meant that he suddenly had the power to ensure that he had control over who was nominated to lead one of the global economy’s leading international financial institutions — the World Bank — which funds development projects in low- and middle-income countries and wields considerable political muscle through its control of the pursestrings.
For Trump, the opening at the top of the World Bank at the beginning of 2019, was a golden opportunity to place a compliant ally atop the lender at a time when even his pals at Deutsche Bank who kept his business solvent with massive loans the last decade were beginning to have their doubts about being so exposed to the Trump Organization’s questionable ability to handle their debt load.
While it was briefly reported at the time that the former president was considering appointing his daughter Ivanka Trump as the head of the World Bank, a new report from The Intercept provides new details on the debate over Trump’s nepotistic idea and how one cabinet member convinced the narcissistic schemer to eventually abandon the concept.
“As the White House moved to select its new leader, one name very dear to the Trump’s heart kept floating around: his daughter Ivanka Trump,” The Intercept report states.
When rumors of the desired appointment began circulating among Washington DC cognoscenti, Ivanka was cagey, telling inquiring reporters that she was quite “happy with the work” in her role as her father’s White House advisor.
Now, The Intercept reports that:
“…two sources, not authorized to speak publicly, tell The Intercept the talk of Ivanka at the helm went far beyond the realm of Beltway chatter: Trump very much wanted Ivanka as World Bank president, and it was [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin who actually blocked her ascent to the leadership role.”
“It came incredibly close to happening,” said one well-placed source.”
“Mnuchin often placed himself between the president and what the Treasury secretary saw as colossally counterproductive moves. His time as a Hollywood producer — making him a representative of the set whose approval Trump craved — gave him influence that others in the administration lacked,” the authors of the report, Ryan Grim and Max Ufberg write.
That the placement of Ivanka Trump in the role as the head of the World Bank would not be a particularly good idea seems fairly obvious even to casual observers of international finance circles.
While the former president’s eldest daughter had some limited experience working with the World Bank as one of the founders of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, her resume was woefully thin for the stature of the job for which she was being suggested.
“That’s a very thin base to try to establish credibility in this multilateral institution,” said Scott Morris, director of the U.S. development policy program at the Center for Global Development in D.C. “It’s hard to imagine that she would have been viewed as a credible leader. It would be the worst kind of exercise of U.S. power. I have to think as a candidate she would have encountered some resistance. But maybe [the bank’s members] would not have wanted to provoke the U.S. president.”
While the report in The Intercept fails to reveal exactly how Mnuchin used his leverage with the former reality TV host to prevent the installation of Ivanka to the position way beyond her capabilities, perhaps it was his strategy of recruiting her help in the selection process for the new World Bank leader may have been enough to placate the mercurial ex-president.
“Ivanka Trump did, however, aid Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in the selection process. When the Treasury Department announced Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass as the World Bank’s new president, Ivanka released a statement predicting Malpass would be “an extraordinary leader of the World Bank.” (Malpass was in fact a controversial pick, due in large part to his past criticisms of the World Bank),” Grim and Ufberg write.
The story demonstrates how many untold stories of the inner workings of the Trump administration still remain to be revealed.
Let’s hope that enough of them leak out between now and the next presidential election that the very idea of a White House return for Donald Trump is seen to be as ludicrous to the vast majority of American voters as it is to your average member of the anti-Trump resistance.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.