Demonstrating to all the world that women really are amazing multitaskers, first daughter Ivanka Trump was able to dine with Chinese President Xi Jinping and see her company win provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks on the very same day. It’s just like how her dad was able to send missiles to whatever country, he can’t remember which one, while simultaneously eating that scrumptious chocolate cake. The Trumps: Redefining “business dinner” since January 20.
According to the Associated Press, “global sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise have surged” since President Trump took office. “The company has applied for at least nine new trademarks in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada and the U.S.” Boycotts like the #GrabYourWallet campaign and controversy surrounding Ivanka’s complicity in her father’s politics have apparently done little to stem her company’s success. In fact, the AP reports that 2017 has brought Ivanka’s company record sales: “U.S. imports, almost all from China, shot up an estimated 166 percent last year.”
Ivanka formally stepped down from managing her company in mid-January, but she still owns and profits from it. In a statement, an Ivanka Trump brand spokesperson said that “all 2017 Chinese trademarks were defensive, filed to prevent counterfeiters or squatters from using her name.”
From the AP:
Using the prestige of government service to build a brand is not illegal. But criminal conflict-of-interest law prohibits federal officials, like Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, from participating in government matters that could impact their own financial interest or that of their spouses. Some argue that the more her business broadens its scope, the more it threatens to encroach on the ability of two trusted advisers to deliver credible counsel to the president on core issues like trade, intellectual property and the value of Chinese currency.
Controversy has swirled around Ivanka’s use of her father’s — and, now, her own— political platform for her financial gain ever since Donald Trump first announced his candidacy for presidency. She wore dresses from her eponymous brand to the Republican National Convention, boosting sales of both sheaths; on her official website, she posted photos from the event with captions that included links to where readers could buy her outfits.
In November, less than a week after the election, she appeared on 60 Minutes with her family while wearing a bracelet from her label. Monica Marder, vice president of sales for the Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry Collection, sent out a “style alert” blast to fashion journalists so reporters could know that Ivanka’s “favorite bangle from the Metropolis Collection” was available at two price points. (The less expensive model costs $8,800.)
And when news broke that Nordstrom would be dropping Ivanka’s line — the official comment on the matter was the decision was made due to falling sales, not political pressure — President Trump weighed in on Twitter to decry what he deemed to be Nordstrom’s “unfair” and “terrible” treatment of his daughter. Counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway, in what scanned to ethics experts everywhere as an obvious violation of federal law, went on Fox & Friends and told viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” and that she was giving Ivanka a “free commercial.”
Matters like this are even more fraught now that Ivanka is a White House employee. She has an office in the West Wing and security clearance, though no official title. The AP reports that, to date, “Ivanka Trump Marks LLC has 16 registered trademarks in China and more than 30 pending applications, along with at least five marks granted preliminary approval since the inauguration, according to China’s Trademark Office database and gazette.”
Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama, told the AP, “Ivanka has so many China ties and conflicts, yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contacts and policy. I would never have allowed it. For their own sake, and the country’s, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters.”