Trump uses power of the presidency to shill for Ivanka’s merchandise

Trump took to Twitter to attack Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s products.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On Thursday, President Trump publicly criticized Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s brand from their stores.

Trump’s tweet — which was retweeted by the official @POTUS account — represents his latest attempt to use the power of the presidency to benefit his family’s business interests. He’s refused to divest from his company despite repeated warning from ethics experts on both sides of the aisle that failing to do so will mire his presidency in conflicts of interest.

Since Trump’s inauguration, the Trump Organization doubled the initiation fee for Trump’s private Mar-a-lago club in Florida to $200,000. The president then spent last weekend there hobnobbing with members. The Trump Organization also announced plans to triple the number of Trump-branded hotels in the United States.

Trump’s family also hopes to get in on the action. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Trump’s wife, Melania, revealed her intention to leverage her husband’s office to ink new “licensing, branding, and endorsement” deals worth many millions of dollars. Her lawyer described the office of First Lady as a “once-in-a-lifetime” money making opportunity. (Melania’s representatives have since contradicted the court filing and denied she will leverage her position as First Lady to personally profit.)

Ivanka has used the office of the presidency to try to make money too. Shortly after the election, her brand marketed a $10,000 bracelet she wore during a 60 Minutes appearance.

Trump’s tweet criticizing Nordstrom comes days after the Washington Post reported that a business trip Eric Trump took to Uruguay in early January cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $100,000 in hotel rooms for Secret Service and embassy staff. Eric — who, along with his brother Donald Jr., is supposedly managing the Trump Organization without input from their father during his presidency — was in Uruguay to promote a company the president still owns because he refuses to divest.

Eric and Donald Jr. both had prime seats last week while their father introduced Judge Neil Gorsuch as his choice to fill an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court. Afterward, Eric and Donald Jr. were photographed chatting with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Senate’s president pro tempore and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who reportedly congratulated Trump’s sons on the “great pick” of Gorsuch.

Meanwhile, Trump’s continued ownership of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. appears to violate the Constitution’s prohibition on presidents accepting gifts (or “emoluments”) from foreign governments—a provisions the Framers included in the Constitution “to guarantee that private entanglements with foreign states would not blur the loyalties of federal officials, above all the president,” as a group of ethics lawyers recently wrote in the Atlantic. Since the election, Trump Organization officials have not only booked and hosted events for foreign governments at the hotel, but they’ve actively solicited business from diplomats.

Despite the president’s claim that Nordstrom is treating Ivanka “unfairly,” Nordstrom officials said they decided to drop Ivanka Trump-branded items due to poor sales.

As a company spokesperson told Racked earlier this month, “We’ve said all along we make buying decisions based on performance,” and that of the “thousands of brands — more than 2,000 offered on the site alone,” approximately 10 percent get cut each year and replaced with other goods.

“In Ivanka’s case, based on the brand’s performance, we’ve decided not to buy it for this season,” the spokesperson said.

Nordstrom said it will sell its remaining Ivanka inventory, however.

Neiman Marcus also recently announced it’s ceasing sales of Ivanka Trump luxury jewelry due to poor sales, which may in part be a result of the #GrabYourWallet campaign encouraging those who oppose President Trump’s policies to boycott all Trump businesses.

In a statement responding to the Nordstrom news, an Ivanka Trump spokesperson said, “We believe that the strength of a brand is measured not only by the profits it generates, but the integrity it maintains.”