On the same day Ivanka Trump dined with President Xi at Mar-a-Lago over the remarkable chocolate cake that her father has bragged about, the Chinese government provisionally approved her three trademarks.
The recent trademarks are for jewelry, spa services and bags, and are among others filed in the first half of 2016.
President Trump also won several trademarks, too. A preliminary approval was granted for 35 Trump related trademarks including construction. The trademarks are likely to be finalized in the coming months this year.
Although Ivanka Trump has removed herself from the management of her fashion business she still retains ownership. Jamie Gorelick, her attorney said her assets from the business have been moved into a trust to help avoid conflict. However, she will still have to take steps to avoid future conflicts, particularly those involving financial interests.
Federal US law states that any participation in government issues where she has a financial interest are prohibited. This included business in China.
The fashion and jewelry company Ivanka owns is valued at $50 million. Arguably, the contacts she has access to through the White House role of “advisor” to President Trump raises ethical issues.
The trademarks awarded to her from the Chinese government on the same day as dining with the Chinese president gives her “monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services” in the Chinese market.
This raises serious questions about the Trumps’ financial disclosures. The trust that holds the 50 million is in fact held by her brother-in-law Josh Kushner and his wife Nicole Meyer, while she retains a stake.
Furthermore, since Donald Trump became president, her merchandise has literally surged with a net sale on her clothing lines increasing by $17.9 million, reports AP. According to ethics lawyers, the Ivanka Trump Marks LLC and her father’s commercial ventures outside of government are unprecedented and concerning. AP reports:
“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.”
Ethics lawyer Richard Painter, who served as the Chief White House lawyer under the George W. Bush administration suggested Ivanka should “put the business on hold and stop trying to get trademarks while you’re in government.”
Norman Eisen, who also served as a chief White House ethics lawyer but to President Barack Obama shares the same concerns. “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,” Eisen said. “For their own sake, and the country’s, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters.”
After Kellyanne Conway told Fox viewers to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff” earlier, sales increased by 771 percent. March sales this year were also unusually high at an increase of 262 percent compared to last year. Although Conway was later reprimanded, it clearly displays the ethics that are at stake.
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