WASHINGTON – After Ivanka Trump’s tweets about violence in Chicago sparked an angry response from Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday, the daughter and top adviser to the president tried to limit the damage, offering an olive branch to keep a new relationship intact.
A White House official told the Chicago Sun-Times that Ivanka Trump wants to work with City Hall to plan an “event surrounding workforce development and economic opportunity in Chicago,” and “we are hopeful that Mayor Lightfoot is a catalyst for change in the city.”
Moreover, after Lightfoot’s scorching comments - and the mayor reaching out to the White House - Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, Julie Radford, phoned City Hall, “and our office of intergovernmental affairs spoke with her team yesterday,” the White House official said.
That Ivanka Trump was willing to dial it down and try to mend fences is in stark contrast to her father, President Donald Trump, who favors escalation over mitigation and conciliation - and who has picked on Chicago since his 2016 presidential campaign.
The day before President Trump was to visit El Paso and Dayton in the wake of mass shootings, Ivanka Trump posted two tweets about violence in Chicago last weekend.
“With 7 dead and 52 wounded near a playground in the Windy City - and little national outrage or media coverage - we mustn’t become numb to the violence faced by inner city communities every day,” she wrote, misstating facts and leaving her open to Lightfoot’s scathing remarks.
Ivanka Trump conflated several separate shootings, making it seem there was one horrible incident that somehow escaped national attention. According to the Chicago Sun-Times count, there were 7 dead and 46 wounded in shootings in various places across Chicago.
But there was more to Lightfoot’s grievances.
Taking some heat on May 7, then Mayor-elect Lightfoot used some of her political capital to go to the White House to meet with Ivanka Trump to discuss issues where they could work together and to establish a line of communication no matter the disdain Lightfoot has for the president.
If Ivanka Trump thought she was being helpful to Chicago in sending those tweets – and not trying to provide cover for the president – then Lightfoot’s position was she could have picked up the phone and called.
A White House statement released on Tuesday night acknowledged that to an extent: Ivanka Trump’s quote was “misleading in implying that all of the shooting incidents occurred in one location,” while underscoring the larger point that seven were shot to death, even if not a mass killing.
The White House official provided me more of the backstory from their perspective surrounding that statement.
“The mayor’s office asked us not to have Ivanka put out a correction or any further tweets, and we honored their request. They also said we should definitely explain to media the intention. We did ensure media were informed that the tweet was not implying a mass shooting had occurred, but that the violence must not be ignored and we are hopeful that Mayor Lightfoot is a catalyst for change in the city.”
Since Lightfoot’s May meeting at the White House, “our offices have stayed in contact and have been working on an event surrounding workforce development and economic opportunity in Chicago.”
What Lightfoot wants is not tweets but help that does something. More federal assistance in stopping the flow of guns to the city, stepping up prosecutions and having Congress take actions to curb gun violence.
Ivanka Trump has not signaled if she is using her considerable clout to influence the president to take stronger action on guns.
I asked, “Is there anything Ivanka Trump wants to suggest for Chicago?
The reply from the White House official: “She wants to ensure that we as a country do not become numb to gun violence that occurs in our inner cities on a daily basis.
“When she (met) with Mayor Lightfoot, they had a productive and positive meeting covering issues ranging from workforce development and vocational education to economic revitalization. They also discussed at length criminal justice and parole reform as well as crime prevention and looks forward to collaborating on these issues.”