The Trump era will be remembered, among other things, as a time of tell-alls. With disgruntled aides writing exposés as fast as they get chucked out of the White House, everyone from John Bolton to Michael Cohen to Michael Cohen’s daughter has had a chance to dish on the outgoing president’s indiscretions, personal and professional.
Although she’s one of her father’s closest confidantes, Ivanka Trump has been largely spared the tell-all treatment. But that reprieve ended when Lysandra Ohrstrom, a Brooklyn-based journalist and the First Daughter’s former classmate at ritzy Manhattan private school Chapin, wrote a scathing Vanity Fair essay explaining how her “wild, entitled, precious best friend” rose to “MAGA royalty.”
There are plenty of good tidbits in the piece, which is as much a reminiscence of a privileged and dysfunctional adolescence as it is a critique of Ivanka’s character or politics.
For starters, there’s Donald Trump’s habit of asking a teenage Ohrstrom whether Ivanka was the prettiest girl in their class, a question which, until she realized that “Trumps have no sense of humor about themselves,” she answered truthfully.
Or the time Trump told a crowd assembled at Mar-a-Lago that they were “richest Jews in the world,” and that their flashy sports cars made the nearby and comparatively restrained WASP country club look like a “dump.” (At the time, such clubs tended to exclude Jews and other minorities, as well as new-money intruders like the Trumps.)
Or the time Ohrstrom recommended that Ivanka read “Empire Falls,” Richard Russo’s 2001 novel about a white working-class community (you know, the people the Trumps claim to represent) only for Ivanka to ask disdainfully, “Why would you tell me to read a book about f—king poor people?”
But the most revealing detail about Ivanka’s character — and her prejudices — arrives when Ohrstrom and Ivanka finally drift apart.
By the mid-2000s, the two women were embarked on increasingly divergent paths. Ohrstrom was working as a journalist in Beirut, where she covered years of civil unrest and Lebanon’s 2006 war with Israel. Ivanka had married Jared Kushner and was beginning her conquest of old-money Manhattan.
While Ohrstrom had arrived at a “pro-Palestinian stance” through her work, Ivanka had embraced her husband’s staunch support of Israel, which expressed itself through rancor not just towards criticism of the Jewish state but any demonstrations of fondness for the Arab World.
So she made no secret of her dislike for Ohrstrom’s signature necklace, a pendant with her name written in Arabic. One night at dinner, Ohrstrom wrote, her longtime friend looked 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 wrote that she has come forward with the intention of “holding my former friend to account.” For too long, she wrote, “I’ve been a good Wasp and kept quiet,” seeming to imply that these revelations might prevent Ivanka from returning to the New York elite when the Trump administration dissolves.
But as strong an indictment as she presents of her former friend, it’s hard to imagine it will have much effect. After all, if sordid, scandalous anecdotes could topple the Trumps, they’d be long gone by now.
Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @katz_conn.