Donald Trump’s deputy campaign manager from 2016 claims Mr Trump repeatedly suggested making his daughter next in line for the presidency.
Donald Trump’s deputy campaign manager from 2016 claims Mr Trump repeatedly suggested making his daughter next in line for the presidency.

'I think it should be Ivanka. What about Ivanka as my VP'

The man who served as Donald Trump's deputy campaign manager in 2016 claims Mr Trump seriously considered making his daughter Ivanka vice president.

Rick Gates is the latest in a long line of former Trump staffers to write a book about his time in the President's employ.

His one is called Wicked Game: An Insider's Story on How Trump Won, Mueller Failed, and America Lost. Granted, not the snappiest of titles.

Gates is best known for being one of the people in Mr Trump's orbit who was ensnared by the Mueller investigation.

He and his boss Paul Manafort - who served as the President's campaign manager - were both arrested in 2017 and charged with an array of financial crimes.

After co-operating with prosecutors to help convict Manafort, Gates was sentenced to three years of probation and 45 days in jail, as well as being slapped with a $US20,000 fine. He said he "greatly regretted" the "mistakes" he had made.

So that's who we are dealing with here. He is not the most credible of individuals.

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Nevertheless, he was a senior staffer, with more knowledge of what happened at the top of the campaign than most. Let's look at what he claims.

According to Bloomberg News, Gates' book describes a meeting from mid-2016, during which Mr Trump, his children, and some advisers discussed potential options for the Republican Party's vice presidential nomination.

The American vice president has little real power beyond casting tiebreaking votes in the Senate, but they are first in the line of succession if the president dies or becomes unable to discharge his duties. So it is an important position.

Mr Trump eventually settled on Mike Pence, an extremely traditional and experienced Republican who was governor of Indiana at the time.

But at this early stage of the process, he was reportedly keen on the idea of making Ivanka, his own daughter, the nominee.

"I think it should be Ivanka. What about Ivanka as my VP?" Mr Trump asked, according to Gates' retelling.

"She's bright, she's smart, she's beautiful, and the people would love her!"

You might think the idea ludicrous (because it absolutely was), but to be fair, nepotism has occurred in US politics before. President John F. Kennedy famously made his brother Robert attorney-general.

On the other hand Bobby Kennedy, a lawyer, was perhaps more qualified for the job he got than Ivanka, whose resume includes running a fashion brand and working as an executive for her father's company.

"All heads turned toward her, and she just looked surprised. We all knew Trump well enough to keep our mouths shut and not laugh," Gates writes.

He says Mr Trump repeatedly brought up the idea again in the following weeks, insisting Republican voters would love it, even as his advisers steered him towards more normal options.

The list included former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Joni Ernst, Mr Pence, and Senator Jeff Sessions, who went on to become Mr Trump's first attorney-general (and then a frequent target of his scorn).

"Look, I don't like any of these people," Mr Trump told his staff.

"I think it should be Ivanka."

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Gates claims the campaign, at Manafort's direction, included Ivanka in two polls measuring support for the various VP candidates.

"She didn't poll tremendously high, but higher than we expected, and that only added to the seriousness of her consideration," he writes.

The current Trump campaign's spokesman Tim Murtaugh denies any such poll ever happened.

"I have the greatest respect for Mr Murtaugh and the tremendous job he has with the Trump campaign. In 2016 only a few senior staff were aware of the full list of potential candidates and the actions we took to vet them," Gates told The Washington Post in response.

He says the idea had actually "started to catch some momentum" by July of 2016, with some campaign staff arguing Ivanka could balance out her father's rougher edges and help him with independent voters.

Eventually, it was Ivanka herself who squashed it.

"She went to her father and said, 'No, dad. It's not a good idea.' And he capitulated," Gates recounts.

Shortly afterwards, on July 15, Mr Trump tweeted out the announcement that he had chosen Mr Pence.

In an interview with The Post, Gates clarified that he didn't mean the anecdote about Ivanka to come off as a criticism of the President.

Rather, he said it was an example of "the kind of unconventional thinking" that made Mr Trump a formidable candidate.

"While others might see the episode as a distasteful symbol of Trump's nepotism, Gates said it shows Trump's commitment to family, loyalty and ensuring those around him support his agenda and not their own," The Post wrote.

"Unlike a number of other memoirs by former Trump staffers, Gates' book serves not as a tell-all but rather a defence of the President and how he and others helped elect him."

Gates told the newspaper Mr Trump had been a good president and deserved to be re-elected.

His book comes out on October 13, three weeks before the election.

Originally published as Trump's bizarre job idea for Ivanka

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