The timing of this trip is peculiar. The New York Times published an article Saturday that appeared to confirm the suspicions of observers who feared the State Department is falling victim to intentional neglect. According to the Times, since Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took his position, a parade of high-ranking diplomats and officials left the department — or were forced out — leaving it the thinnest it had been in years. Many cited Tillerson’s “aloofness and lack of communication” as reasoning for leaving, an attitude they said was exacerbated by a shift in Tillerson’s focus away from policy and more towards reorganization.
The “budget cuts” Tillerson has so far made at the State Department amounts to rejecting funds that have already been approved by Congress, including $80 million to help counter ISIS and Russian propaganda. In his response to the bombing in Egypt that killed at least 300, President Trump cited the need to counter propaganda in preventing such attacks.
Sources close to the White House told CNN that the State Department’s decision not to send high-level officials to India with Ivanka isn’t related to the drama unfolding within the agency, but because she was personally invited by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to State Department, “They (Tillerson and his staff) won’t send someone senior because they don’t want to bolster Ivanka,” adding even more tension to an already tense relationship between the White House and the State Department.
In early October, there were multiple reports that Tillerson had called President Donald Trump a “fucking moron,” a claim which Tillerson has not entirely refuted. Tillerson was forced to give a press conference in which he announced his loyalty to Trump amidst rumors of his resignation.
Ivanka’s direct involvement in America’s soft power is in keeping with her father’s view of the diminishing importance of State and diplomacy. When asked about the unusual number of vacancies in the agency Trump replied, “I’m the only one that matters.”