As revelations about Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s use of private jets continued to pelt the Trump administration ahead of his Friday resignation, Ivanka Trump took a well-timed commercial flight into Washington, D.C. — an endeavor documented with glamorous photos by the tabloid the Daily Mail, which obsessively covers her every move.
The First Daughter and adviser to the president landed at Ronald Reagan National Airport on Tuesday after visiting Detroit to tout a $200 million computer science and coding education grant, news broken by the Daily Mail the next day. The British tabloid reported that she “looked incredibly chic as she made her way out of the airport, wearing a bright orange-red shirt and a blue-and-red pinstripe skirt, however she had changed out of the gold high heels she was seen wearing earlier in the day in favor of some comfy flats.” Despite the presence of her Secret Service detail, they wrote, she “got a small taste of life as a normal member of the public.”
This glossy item came amid a series of stories, by Politico and other publications, detailing Price’s “Rich Kids of Instagram” travel preferences, for which the taxpayers had been footing the bill. His office had attempted to justify the expense by claiming he traveled however was most effective to remain “connected with the real American people.” This explanation didn’t quite work, and by midweek, the president was criticizing him in public and sources were leaking to the press that his future was uncertain. By Friday afternoon, he was gone.
When the president or vice-president travels, the White House distributes an advisory to the media with the logistics: where they’re going and when, how they’re getting there, and what kind of access the press will have at different junctures throughout the trip. For Ivanka’s jaunt to Detroit, no similar notice was sent out, meaning that even though the trip itself had been announced, most reporters weren’t aware of how or when she was flying. An administration official told me that the Daily Mail was not tipped off about the flight, and neither was any other tabloid or news publication. (I could find no other coverage of this momentous event besides the one article.)
The Daily Mail reported that Tuesday’s flight was “thought to be” Ivanka’s first commercial flight since entering the White House. During the transition, she made headlines flying with her family on Jet Blue when another passenger was removed for screaming at her. But the administration official claimed that was “not true” and that Ivanka “has flown commercially multiple times.” The official said “she flew back from the first foreign trip commercially is one example” and that she traveled to the W20 summit in Berlin in April on a commercial airline, too.
As is so often the case for the first First Daughter, she was passively where the White House needed her to be to help shape a message.