Ivanka, Melania and the weird dynamics holding the Trump family together

During a speech on family values in 1992, US president George Bush Snr said that American families needed to be “a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons”

But if there’s a TV family that best represents the current inhabitants of the White House, it’s the Addams family.

Donald Trump is, in essence, a reality TV star – having far more success with his TV series the Apprentice than with any of his numerous business ventures.

And like any reality star, he has no problem parading his somewhat dysfunctional family setup in front of the cameras.

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Omarosa Manigault Newman met the Trumps in 2004 after appearing on The Apprentice, and in January 2017 became Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.

After falling out with the President, she went on to write a book revealing one of the bizarre secrets of the Trumps’ “very strange” marriage.

'What I have observed in the last 17 years would make your head spin,” she says. “Sometimes they like each other but sometimes she is repulsed by him.”

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That repulsion can be seen in the way that Melania seems to shrink from contact with her husband.

Countless times at public functions he has reached out to take her hand and she has avoided his touch – even slapping his hand away on occasion.

While Melania is Donald’s wife and the stepmother to his four children, it’s his daughter Ivanka who seems closest to him.

Trump has said some distinctly odd things about his daughter in the past.

Asked if she would make a good Playboy centrefold, he answered: ‘I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her,” and in another TV interview saying “You know who’s one of the great beauties of the world, according to everybody? And I helped create her. Ivanka. My daughter, Ivanka. She’s 6 feet tall, she’s got the best body.”

Perhaps strangest of all is a quote from Trump in early drafts of a Washington Post profile that was removed from the final article. Journalist Michael Cohen wrote "Can I ask you something?" Trump asked someone I know, about his then-13-year-old kid, "Is it wrong to be more sexually attracted to your own daughter than your wife?"

Neither Trump nor his representatives have ever responded to requests for comment on the claim.

A senior advisor, and his most successful fundraiser, Ivanka was an executive vice president of the family firm, the Trump Organisation. She was also a boardroom judge on The Apprentice.

The former model became her father’s most vocal cheerleader when he announced his run for the presidency, even though she had previously voiced political views that were closer to Democratic than Republican principles.

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Marissa Velez Kraxberger who was the Chief Marketing Officer of Ivanka’s fashion brand, claims that Ivanka never expected her dad to win.

According to Kraxberger, the campaign was a massive advertising stunt: “She genuinely seemed to believe that he wouldn’t win, but that it would give them more power – more book deals, more products to sell,” she told The Independent. “They are master marketers,” she added. “I may not agree with them, but I can certainly appreciate that.”

But Trump did beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, in a controversial election which saw the Democratic candidate winning the largest share of the popular vote but losing because of America’s complex Electoral College system.

Since then Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner, have become key figures in the Trump administration – while Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr. have remained at the head of the family firm.

Eric has remained comparatively quiet since the 2017 scandal when Forbes reported claims that he had redirected money intended to go to cancer patients into the Trump family coffers.

Don Junior, though, has become increasingly aggressive and outspoken as the campaign to re-elect the president has reached its endgame.

Regularly sharing conspiracy theories via social media, he came under fire this week for apparently promoting physical attacks on the Biden campaign bus.

Ahead of a Democratic rally in Texas he said: “It’d be great if you guys would all get together, head down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump Train welcome,” adding “Get out there, have some fun, enjoy it. Don’t forget to vote and bring all of your friends. Let’s show them how strong Texas still is as Trump country. Get out there, guys.”

Days later the Biden campaign bus was reportedly “ run off the road ” by armed Trump supporters in Texas.

Trump’s youngest son Barron is Melania’s only child. Born in 2006 he has already appeared with his dad on several TV shows. Melania is said to be fiercely protective of her son and anxious to shield him from the worst effects off growing up in the media spotlight.

According to Mary Jordan’s book The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump, Mrs Trump delayed her 2017 move to Washington so she could renegotiate the terms of her prenuptial agreement with the president.

A big part of that agreement, claims Washington Post journalist Jordan, revolved around securing Barron’s stake in the family business.

The outcome of this week’s presidential election is too risky to call, but there’s no doubt that, win or lose, the bizarre Trump family soap opera will continue to dominate headlines for years to come.

Throughout this week, the Daily Star Online will be bringing you all the big news, and some of the quirkiest, from 2020's US election. You can read more of our coverage here .

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