White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was reportedly privately frustrated that White House senior adviser and first-daughter Ivanka Trump was sent to South Korea to lead the U.S. delegation at the Winter Olympics closing ceremonies in Pyeongchang, CNN reported Tuesday.
Two people familiar with the situation told CNN that the decision irked Kelly and other senior West Wing officials because of Ivanka Trump’s unfamiliarity with diplomatic efforts surrounding the tensions on the Korean Peninsula. One person close with President Donald Trump told CNN that Kelly thought Ivanka Trump was not experienced enough to handle the delicacies of the trip because “the stakes are far higher and more complex” than a visit to other countries.
Kelly was reportedly advised by people close to him to not air his concerns with the President, who was publicly very supportive of his daughter serving as the delegation’s leader.
My daughter, Ivanka, just arrived in South Korea. We cannot have a better, or smarter, person representing our country.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 23, 2018
As tensions mount between the U.S. and North Korea over the regime’s nuclear arms program, North Korean officials reportedly offered to talk with the U.S. after Ivanka Trump’s visit. During the closing ceremonies, she sat in the same viewing box as North Korean leaders and was photographed standing when the joint North and South Korea Olympics team entered the gallery.
Vice President Mike Pence led the U.S. delegation at the start of the Olympics and notably refused to stand for the North and South Korea team. There were reportedly plans for talks between Pence and a North Korean official while he was in Pyeongchang, but North Korea backed out at the last minute.