Ivanka Trump’s company won approval for three Chinese trademarks on the same day her father agreed to lift sanctions on ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company that even a key Trump security adviser admitted is a national security threat.
According to records reviewed by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Ivanka’s business “received registration approval for three additional Chinese trademarks on June 7, 2018.”
President Trump struck a deal with ZTE on June 7, 2018.
Ivanka’s business had received five additional trademarks one month prior, with a sixth given trial approval around the same time her father advocated giving ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast” because, as he tweeted May 13, “too many jobs in China lost.”
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
The president’s Twitter feed is usually concerned with American jobs, but the previous week, China had approved a half-dozen trademarks key to his daughter’s business interests in the country. And two days before Trump’s ZTE tweet, a Chinese construction company proposed a $500 million loan for a project in Indonesia that includes Trump-branded hotels, residences, and a golf course.
According to Bill Evanina, who runs Trump’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center, ZTE is a national security threat. The Chinese company sold products with American-made components to Iran and North Korea, violating sanctions. It is also a potential security threat along the lines of Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs, which has been barred from official use by the Department of Homeland Security. Evanina told Congress that he wouldn’t use a ZTE smartphone and said anyone in “any sort of position that is sensitive” should also avoid using them.
The Trump administration has been in heavy trade negotiations with China, with officials pushing China to purchase more goods produced in America. Ivanka’s trademarks would allow her business to sell a wide variety of goods to China, “from baby blankets to coffins, and a host of things in between, including perfume, make-up, bowls, mirrors, furniture, books, coffee, chocolate and honey,” PBS reported.
She and husband Jared Kushner, a fellow White House adviser, were planning to visit China in an official capacity last year, but White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly decided to send a more traditional diplomatic delegation to plan the president’s visit.
Last year, Ivanka won provisional approval for three Chinese trademarks on the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at her father’s Mar-a-Lago estate, allowing Ivanka Trump Marks LLC to sell activewear, jewelry, bags, and spa services under the first daughter’s name. Days after the meeting, the president broke a major campaign promise to punish China for being a currency manipulator and denying that it was manipulating its currency at all.
Trump had called China “world champions” of currency manipulation a mere 10 days earlier.
The White House has said that Ivanka, a senior adviser to her father, has been complying with ethical guidelines in staying away from conflicts of interest in her official role. She currently has trademarks in Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia, Qatar and the Philippines.
The president’s daughter recently reported she earned $82 million last year, partially from her ownership of her businesses. She also reported debts and liabilities in the undefined range of millions of dollars. Before she started working at the White House, she gave up official positions in her business, handing it over to a trust managed by members of her family, but she still retains ownership and benefits from any profits.