The fashion brand of first daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump won first trial approval for 16 new Chinese trademarks — the largest number of trademarks her business has received from China in a single month — according to government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
In July, however, Trump announced that she would shut down her fashion brand and step away from the business as she became a bigger presence in the White House.
“After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business,” Trump said at the time, “but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington, so making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners.”
The new trademarks will remain in her name regardless of her decision to shutter the business. Several of them will remain active until 2028 at the latest — leaving open the possibility that the first daughter can return to the business after she leaves the White House and continue to profit off of the connections she’s made there.
The trademarks cover basic fashion items like handbags, shoes, and jewelry, which makes sense considering her company has (quite controversially) used Chinese manufacturers to produce products. But this recent slate of Chinese trademarks, which Trump’s business applied for in 2016, include some rather random and questionable items like sausage casing, nursing homes, and — most surprisingly — voting machines.
“Ivanka receives preliminary approval for these new Chinese trademarks while her father continues to wage a trade war with China,” CREW said Monday in a statement. “Since she has retained her foreign trademarks, the public will continue to have to ask whether President Trump has made foreign policy decisions in the interest of his and his family’s businesses.”
In an ironic twist, news of Ivanka Trump’s business winning Chinese trademarks for voting machines comes just weeks after her father’s administration accused China of meddling in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.
“There can be no doubt: China is meddling in America’s democracy,” Vice President Mike Pence said last month. Pence further described the Chinese government’s actions as “an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.”
In September, President Donald Trump told a meeting of United Nations Security Council that “China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election.”
According to the president at the time, “they do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade, and we are winning on trade.”
Facebook and Twitter have found no evidence of Chinese meddling. Four Democratic senators asked Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, multiple times for evidence to support Trump’s claim of Chinese election interference and, as of late October, had heard nothing back.
Despite — or perhaps because of — her high-profile presence in the White House on the matters of trade with China, Ivanka Trump has been the beneficiary of some curiously-timed trademarks from the country.
As ThinkProgress has previously reported, in June,the first daughter’s company won approval for three Chinese trademarks on the same day her father agreed to lift sanctions on ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company described as a national security threat by a Trump adviser. A month earlier, days before President Trump promised on Twitter to help save ZTE, Ivanka Trump’s business secured five valuable trademarks from China.