Ivanka Trump, the daughter and senior adviser of President Donald Trump, invoked the words of a founding father on Thursday to defend her own father from his political enemies, moments after the House of Representatives voted to formalize its impeachment inquiry.
” ‘… surrounded by enemies and spies catching and perverting every word (which) falls from my lips or flows from my pen, and inventing where facts fail them.’ -Thomas Jefferson’s reflections on Washington, D.C. in a letter to his daughter Martha. Some things never change, dad!” she tweeted Thursday.
The President also tweeted, shortly after the vote: “Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
On Thursday, 232 members of the House, which includes a former Republican who left the party earlier this year, voted in favor to formalize the inquiry and 196 members, including two Democrats, voted against the formalization.
Though Ivanka Trump may have attempted to show historic parallels between the founding father and the current day President, the truth is more complicated.
The quote she cited comes from a February 1801 letter Jefferson wrote to his daughter while he was vice president and Congress was still determining whether he or Aaron Burr would serve as president. A vote in Congress solidified Jefferson’s presidency less than a month later.
Jefferson, in the letter, appears to be citing the tension between himself and his political enemies. He was likely referring to his rivalry with the Federalists and its allied press, which the University of Virginia’s Miller Center describes as having “reached a level of personal animosity seldom equaled in American politics” in 1800.
In particular, the Federalists criticized his religion, which diverged from Christianity, and according to the University of Virginia, portrayed him “as a godless Jacobin who would unleash the forces of bloody terror upon the land.”
Though the quote may reflect the longstanding nature of bitter rivalries in Washington, the attack on Jefferson did not pertain to an impeachment inquiry.