Steven Mnuchin stopped Ivanka Trump’s appointment to the World Bank

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In January 2019, Jim Yong Kim plunged the global financial development sector into a state of disarray: the former academic and health official announced he would step down the following month as president of the World Bank, opting instead for a more comfortable gig at Wall Street private equity firm. For an institution that was already grappling with increased competition from China and private capital, Kim’s departure – which came as a complete surprise – was seen as a setback, as it provided the opportunity to choose a new leader to President Donald Trump, creating concerns that the America First champion would pick someone unsuitable for the global role.

As the White House moved to choose its new leader, a name dear to Trump’s heart continued to float: his daughter Ivanka Trump. This never materialized, however, with Ivanka later telling reporters that although her father raised the matter, she declined to continue the post because she was “satisfied with the job” she was doing as a senior advisor. .

Ivanka Trump, however, assisted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in the selection process. When the Treasury Department announced that Under-Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass was the new president of the World Bank, Ivanka issued a statement predicting that Malpass would be “an extraordinary leader of the World Bank.” (Malpass was actually a controversial choice, in large part because of his past criticisms of the World Bank.)

But two sources, not authorized to speak publicly, told The Intercept that Ivanka’s speech at the helm went far beyond the realm of Beltway gossip: Trump really wanted Ivanka to be president of the World Bank, and it was Mnuchin who actually blocked his rise to the role of leader.

“It came incredibly close to happening,” said a well-placed source.

Representatives for Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the World Bank or the Trump Organization.

Since the creation of the World Bank in 1944, the United States has always had the prerogative to appoint the president of the bank in an informal agreement with the European leaders, who are responsible for appointing the president of the International Monetary Fund (an arrangement which starkly underscores the Western imperial nature of international financial institutions).

Prior to her post as an adviser to the White House, Ivanka spent 12 years at the Trump Organization as Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions. It has also launched its own line of fashion products which, according to 2019 financial information, would have brought in between $ 100,000 and $ 1,000,000 in rent or royalties.

Once at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Ivanka helped launch the Women Entrepreneur Finance Initiative, colloquially known as the “Ivanka Fund”: a World Bank-supported project to raise funds for women entrepreneurs in the country. in development. It was her work on the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative that White House spokeswoman Jessica Ditto cited when explaining Ivanka’s qualification for the selection of the next World Bank leader. “She has worked closely with the management of the World Bank over the past two years,” said Ditto.

But this initiative still left her rather light on the experience. “It’s a very thin base for trying to establish the credibility of this multilateral institution,” said Scott Morris, director of the US development policy program at the Center for Global Development in DC. “It’s hard to imagine that she would have been seen as a credible leader. It would be the worst exercise of American power. I have to think that as a candidate she would have met some resistance. But maybe [the bank’s members] would not have wanted to provoke the American president.

From the moment her father won the presidential election, Ivanka was plunged into controversy: she falsely testified that she was not involved in the 2017 nomination (a lawsuit alleged that the inauguration committee had overpaid for event space at the Trump International Hotel in DC); she and her husband, fellow presidential adviser Jared Kushner, have earned hundreds of millions of dollars in outside income while working in the White House; and its fundraising initiative for women entrepreneurs was ultimately a failure.

Mnuchin often stood between the President and what the Secretary of the Treasury saw as colossal counterproductive measures. His stint as a Hollywood producer – making him a representative of the ensemble Trump sought approval for – gave him an influence that other members of the administration lacked. He pushed Trump to appoint Jerome Powell as head of the Federal Reserve and regularly dissuaded him from carrying out random government shutdowns. His successful efforts to convince Trump to support and sign the CARES Act were among his other significant accomplishments. He also used to shirk responsibility for Trump’s worst excesses. On January 6, he made sure he was in Sudan.

But given that there is growing discontent among World Bank member countries over the United States’ unilateral ability to appoint the institution’s leadership, the Ivanka saga could serve as a warning against the status quo. “A growing number of countries don’t like this whole arrangement,” Morris said. “For them, hearing how close it was to being the daughter of the President of the United States probably adds fuel to the fire that Americans are so cavalier about it.”


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