Melania Trump and son Barron are expected to move to the White House and in Washington, D.C. “right after” Barron’s school year is completed, president-elect Donald Trump told NBC News.
Yesterday, the New York Post reported that there was uncertainty surrounding the prospect of Mrs. Trump and her son leaving New York City. Trump himself prompted doubt about the family’s plans to fully relocate with his continued preference to return home to Trump Tower whenever possible, but confirmed to NBC News on Sunday that he intends to live in the White House.
Though Trump’s transition team has an office in Washington, D.C., Trump has remained ensconced in his Trump Tower suite and held most of his transition meetings over the past two weeks in the building, as well.
The issue of Donald Trump’s residency has been just one of many questions surrounding his family’s potential involvement in his presidency, which include what critics says are conflicts of interest when it comes to the real estate mogul’s business.
Even as Melania and Barron plan to move to the White House, the president-elect is expected to spend part of his time at Trump Tower and his vacation time at his various properties around the United States. This weekend, he retreated to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for a change of scenery, but continued meetings with cabinet prospects.
The first lady has historically played a prominent public role in a president’s administration by advocating on an issue of national importance and appearing in the president’s stead at various events and media interviews. Melania Trump largely avoided the spotlight of her husband’s campaign and stayed off the trail but has indicated she’s open to taking on more of the traditional activities of a first lady now that her husband has been elected.
And while presidents have emphasized privacy for their young children in the past, Trump’s adult children and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have taken outsize roles as campaign strategists, confidantes and surrogates and look likely to fill similar roles in his White House.
Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump have all been in and out of Trump Tower this week along with a stream of campaign advisers and potential cabinet appointees, but the depth of their involvement with the transition is unclear — and has already sparked controversy.
Trump’s children are expected to manage his business in his stead as he focuses on the White House, but those plans have raised questions over whether Trump will truly be free of conflicts of interest or the influence of his business interests with close family members overseeing them. The Wall Street Journal in an editorial Thursday urged Trump to liquidate his stake in the Trump Organization to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Critics worried about the intertwining of Trump’s White House, family and business interests found cause for concern in Trump’s decision to let his daughter Ivanka sit in on his recent meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Some former government officials told the New York Times that Ivanka’s presence was inappropriate, in part because she’s an executive at an international corporation and topics discussed there could influence her business, but also because of national security concerns.
A source close to the family, when asked by NBC News about the appearance of conflict from Ivanka Trump’s presence at this week’s meeting with the Japanese prime minister, provided the following statement:
“Mr. Trump has always encouraged Ivanka and his children to attend meetings with him. This meeting in question was very informal. However, they obviously need to adjust to the new realities at hand, which they will.”
NBC News’ Chuck Todd questioned incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, about additional reports raising similar conflict of interest questions, such as a Washington Post report on foreign diplomats being wined and dined at Trump’s D.C. hotel and a New York Times story on Trump’s meeting last week with three Indian business partners. Todd asked if a blind trust, which would require an independent manager rather than Trump’s children to run the business, or divestment was on the table.
“We’re not going to get into the details of that, but that is being handled, and there is nothing being discussed of any import, the meeting was simply cursory,” Priebus said.
“How do we know that?” Todd asked, noting that the press had not been allowed to attend the meeting.
“There is going to be no violation of any of these rules,” Priebus said. “I can assure you of that.”