Ivanka Trump shared her father’s craving for money and praise – and his apparent disdain for poor people – from a young age, according to a former schoolfriend who has written a tell-all essay.
Donald Trump’s daughter was obsessed with status and used to blame classmates for her infractions of school rules while projecting a refined persona, Lysandra Ohrstrom, who was a maid of honour at her wedding, claimed in Vanity Fair.
“She had the Trump radar for status, money, and power, and her dad’s instinct to throw others under the bus to save herself,” alleged Ohrstrom, who described Ivanka, 39, as her best friend growing up.
In the most scathing passage, Ohrstrom claimed that in their mid-20s she recommended to her friend the book Empire Falls, a Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Richard Russo about working-class characters in a small town in Maine.
“‘Ly, why would you tell me to read a book about fucking poor people?’ I remember Ivanka saying,” she wrote. “‘What part of you thinks I would be interested in this?’”
Beneath her polish, the future president’s daughter occasionally betrayed “rougher, more Trumpian edges”, she wrote. “Ivanka would regularly relay stories of teachers or observers who had commented that she had the most innate talent they had ever seen for whatever new pursuit she was taking up.”
Ohrstrom, a journalist who used to report from Lebanon, said a necklace with her name in Arabic irked Ivanka. “One night in the middle of dinner, she glanced at the necklace and said: ‘How does your Jewish boyfriend feel when you are having sex and that necklace hits him in the face? How can you wear that thing? It just screams ‘terrorist’.”
Ohrstrom befriended Ivanka in seventh grade, when they were about 12, at Chapin, an all-girls school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with famous alumni including Jackie Kennedy Onassis. They bonded during a school trip to Paris and Ohrstrom was a maid of honour at Ivanka’s 2009 wedding to Jared Kushner, after which the friendship cooled, she wrote.
Watch: Ivanka Trump's childhood best friend says she had to speak out with scathing account of their bond
Ohrstrom said she had written the article to show the true Ivanka, despite the risk of being branded a hypocritical, privileged elitist looking to capitalise on her first family connection.
“Although friends and family have warned that this article won’t be received the way I want, I think it’s past time that one of the many critics from Ivanka’s childhood comes forward – if only to ensure that she really will never recover from the decision to tie her fate to her father’s.”
When Ivanka joined Donald Trump’s White House team as an adviser in 2017, Ohrstrom expected her to moderate the president’s most regressive, racist tendencies. “Not out of any moral commitment, but because caging young children and ripping up global climate agreements was not a good look in the halls of Davos,” she wrote.
Ivanka had spent her career projecting a more polished and intellectual version of the Trump brand, blending millennial feminism with a “mythical narrative” of business acumen, but this dissolved when she endorsed her father’s policies and judicial nominations, said Ohrstrom. “I’ve watched as Ivanka has laid waste to the image she worked so hard to build.”
It is unclear what Ivanka will do after Joe Biden moves into the White House in January. She shut her eponymous clothing and shoe company in 2018, reportedly over scrutiny and conflict-of-interest issues related to her work with her father’s administration.
There is speculation she may run for public office. In a recent RealClearPolitics interview, she described herself as a “Trump-Republican” and “a pragmatist when it comes to everything”. She came out strongly against abortion, a position shared by the Republican party base. “I am pro-life, and unapologetically so,” she said.
The article claims that Donald Trump paid close attention to the attractiveness of his daughter and her friends when they were teenagers. “He would barely acknowledge me except to ask if Ivanka was the prettiest or the most popular girl in our grade. Before I learned that the Trumps have no sense of humor about themselves, I remember answering honestly that she was probably in the top five. “Who’s prettier than Ivanka?” I recall him asking once with genuine confusion, before correctly naming the two girls I’d had in mind.”
The future president never remembered Ohrstrom’s name but noticed when she gained or lost weight, she wrote. Once, while dining at Mar-a-Lago, Ivanka scolded her brother Donald Jr for taking Ohrstrom’s grilled cheese sandwich. Their father chimed in: “Don’t worry. She doesn’t need it. He’s doing her a favor.”
Watch: What does a Joe Biden presidency in the US mean for the global economy?