Within hours of the Chinese government granting provisional approval of three trademarks allowing Ivanka Trump to sell branded products in her name on April 6, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner had dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, according to an Associated Press report.
The monopoly rights would allow Ivanka to expand the Ivanka Trump Marks LLC brand into China, as she begins to launch her new activewear and an affordable jewelry collection. She will also be able to sell her brand’s jewelry, bags, and spa services.
There’s no hard evidence that Ivanka’s trademark approval was related to the Chinese president’s trip to Mar-a-Lago. But it’s clear that even as Ivanka has tried to distance herself from her namesake brand, her business benefits from her political career inside her West Wing office. The trade data resource company Panjiva Inc. found that U.S. imports of her namesake merchandise were up 40 percent in the first quarter of this year — coinciding with the time frame her father has been in office.
Days after the meeting between the two world leaders, President Trump had only nice things to say about the Chinese president. Less than a week after meeting with the president, Trump reneged on his campaign promise to penalize China for being a “currency manipulator” and instead said that China hasn’t manipulate its currency for months. He added that “taking the step now could jeopardize his talks with Beijing on confronting the threat of North Korea,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Trump family has made public statements assuring Americans that they wouldn’t use the presidency to build up the Trump name and funnel more money into their business ventures. Yet, the adult Trump children — Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka — have recently pushed for policy changes “that might help resuscitate the presidency and preserve the family’s name at a time when they are trying to expand the Trump Organization’s portfolio of hotels,” according to the Washington Post.
Ivanka Trump has put her brand’s assets in a family-run trust and promised to recuse herself from issues that could turn up conflicts of interests between her political role and her personal business. But since that trust is managed by family members, concerns remain about Ivanka’s conflicts of interest.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST Ivanka: My biz trustees are independent.
King: They're family members.
Ivanka: They're still independent. pic.twitter.com/YtloGypzb7
— RogelioGarcia Lawyer (@LawyerRogelio) April 5, 2017
Ivanka’s close connection with her brand negatively impacts her credibility to consult her father on issues like trade, intellectual property, and the value of the Chinese currency without being ensnared in conflicts of interest, according to ethics experts.
“The danger is that with any discussion with the Chinese, one party or the other may try to bring up trade,” Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, told the AP. “That’s a slippery slope that may require her or Jared to step out of the room.”
Ivanka and Eric Trump, son of the president, recently praised their father for his nepotistic approach. Eric also recently praised his sister, who has no military experience, for reportedly influencing her father’s decision to launch a U.S. missile attack on a Syrian airbase in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack allegedly committed by the Assad regime.