You may not remember who former President Donald Trump picked to lead the World Bank when its director unexpectedly stepped down in January 2019 — it’s David Malpass — but you almost certainly would recall the name of the world’s leading development bank’s director if Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hadn’t stopped Trump from nominating his daughter Ivanka Trump, a historical footnote reported Sunday by The Intercept, which cited two unidentified sources.
“It came incredibly close to happening,” one well-placed source told The Intercept.
It isn’t news that Trump wanted to pick his daughter and senior adviser to head the World Bank. He told The Atlantic in April 2019 that he had “thought of Ivanka for the World Bank” and “she would’ve been great at that because she’s very good with numbers.” In the end, it was controversial enough that she helped pick Malpass, alongside Mnuchin and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
White House spokeswoman Jessica Ditto explained at the time that Ivanka was qualified to be on the selection team because “she’s worked closely with the World Bank’s leadership for the past two years,” a nod to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, which she helped launch. Not many other people seemed to believe that made her qualified, and certainly not to lead the World Bank. Representatives for Munich, Ivanka Trump, the World Bank, and the Trump Organization did not respond to The Intercept’s requests for comment on the report.
The U.S. has picked the World Bank leader since its founding in 1944, while Europe traditionally chooses the head of the International Monetary Fund, but there was concern that choosing the president’s unqualified daughter for the role would have blown up that arrangement. “Mnuchin often placed himself between the president and what the Treasury secretary saw as colossally counterproductive moves,” The Intercept reports. “His time as a Hollywood producer — making him a representative of the set whose approval Trump craved — gave him influence that others in the administration lacked.”