As President Donald Trump has rotated between controversies for the last few days, two of his top advisers have been notably publicly absent – again.
During a week filled with uncertainty over the economy, retweets of conspiracy theorists, battles for his ear on gun legislation and an unsolicited fight with the prime minister of Denmark over buying Greenland, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have remained under the radar.
The couple was on vacation in Wyoming with their children over the weekend, and, on Monday, participated in a Trump Victory fundraiser alongside his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. They returned to Washington this week but with a limited presence in the West Wing, people familiar with the situation said.
The President’s daughter and son-in-law – who are Modern Orthodox Jews – stayed silent publicly as Trump caused a firestorm by questioning the loyalty of some Jewish Americans to Israel. Trump has recently decided that branding the Democratic Party as anti-Semitic would be savvy political strategy – and aides have largely supported the fight, but when he questioned the intelligence and loyalty of Jewish people who support Democrats, some inside the West Wing privately conceded to CNN he had gone too far. The comments prompted criticism from many groups that what he said was anti-Semitic, but Trump dug in during the days that followed.
“I haven’t heard anybody say that; it’s just the opposite,” he claimed to reporters Wednesday. “I think that if you vote for a Democrat, you’re very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.”
The comments followed the President proudly quoting radio host and conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root, who claimed Israeli Jews love him as if he were the “King of Israel” and “the second coming of God.” He later implied a higher power picked him to fight this trade war with China.
The White House declined to comment on whether Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner have addressed those comments with the President. While Ivanka Trump does not comment publicly on private conversations with him, there have been selective leaks throughout her tenure when she disagrees with her father. This is, so far, not one of those instances.
Additionally, the President has sent mixed signals on background checks in the past week. He had been encouraged by some aides, including Ivanka, to press on background checks in the wake of back-to-back mass shootings. Multiple media organizations reported, citing sources close to the President, that he had told National Rifle Association boss Wayne LaPierre that increased gun background checks were off the table. But on Wednesday, he injected further confusion, saying: “I have an appetite for background checks. We’re going to … be doing background checks.”
Even the President expressed his surprise that the couple was off the grid.
“Two incredible people. I can’t believe they’re not working (few work harder)!” he tweeted Tuesday alongside a photo his daughter posted, posed in a belted denim ensemble alongside her husband as the Wyoming sun set, one of several posts from the trip West on her social media feeds.
Trump’s daughter and son-in-law have developed a pattern of being absent amid some of the biggest controversies of his presidency.
They were skiing on the slopes of Aspen in March 2017 during a family vacation as the administration’s first attempt to repeal Obamacare collapsed. That April, when leaks of infighting within the administration were on top of the news cycle, they were celebrating Passover at the Four Seasons Whistler in Canada, according to reports. That May, they stayed away from the cameras after the President fired then-FBI Director James Comey. That June, the couple skipped a Rose Garden ceremony when the President announced he was pulling out of the Paris climate agreement that Ivanka had advocated for, observing the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.
And they traveled to Florida amid the government shutdown last Christmas, even though the White House insisted Kushner had been actively leading negotiations with lawmakers.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to specify that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are Modern Orthodox Jews.