Make America shop again

The sleaze.

On April 6, Ivanka Trump‘s company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world’s second-largest economy. That night, the first daughter and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago, her father’s Florida resort.

That’s not a good look. The two facts may have nothing to do with each other, but that’s beside the point. It makes the administration look like sleazy hacks (which they are, but that doesn’t make their looking like that any less destructive), and it makes the whole country look corrupt and broken…just as Putin wanted.

In a recent interview with CBS News, Trump argued that her business would be doing even better if she hadn’t moved to Washington and placed restrictions on her team to ensure that “any growth is done with extreme caution.”

Oh horseshit. The whole thing is one giant marketing opportunity, and they’re all using it.

Gorelick, Trump’s attorney, said that she and her husband would steer clear of specific areas that could impact her business, or be seen as conflicts of interest, but are under no legal obligation to step back from huge swaths of policy, like trade with China.

This is what makes them so utterly disgusting. They shouldn’t be arguing the toss in this way, they should be doing everything they can to eliminate the remotest possibility of conflicts of interest. They shouldn’t be making it about them and their fucking business interests, they should be making it about the public interest.

The number of Ivanka Trump items sold through Lyst was 46% higher the month her father was elected president than in November 2015. Sales spiked 771% in February over the same month last year, after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway exhorted Fox viewers to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” Conway was later reprimanded. The bounce appears somewhat sustained. March sales on Lyst were up 262% over the same period last year.

“You can’t separate Ivanka from her role in life and from her business,” said Allen Adamson, founder of BrandSimpleConsulting. “Her celebrity status is now not only being fueled by her wealth and her family connection, but by her huge role in the White House. All that buzz is hardwired to her products.” That, he added, is a competitive advantage other brands just can’t match — though it does come with risk.

Her celebrity status; all that buzz; competitive advantage. That’s pure sleaze.

The Times has more.

Even though many of her trademark applications were filed long before she took her government job, they could be decided on by foreign governments while she works in the White House, creating ethical issues with little precedent. While trademarks do not directly confer financial gains, they protect the use of logos and other intellectual property, making them valuable tools for companies looking to build new ventures or expand existing operations.

None of which should have anything to do with government work.

While presidents are exempt from federal conflict of interest law, Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, another senior White House aide, are not. They are barred from making decisions in government that could benefit their financial holdings, which are worth as much as $740 million, according to recent filings. They are also covered by the Constitution’s emoluments clause barring federal officials from accepting “any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or foreign state.”

Whether trademarks run afoul of such rules is a matter of debate between the Trump administration and its critics.

And it shouldn’t be. They shouldn’t debate; they should do the maximum disengagement. They should put their own interests entirely aside while they are entangled in government. They shouldn’t want to debate it. They wouldn’t if they weren’t so sleazy and revolting.

Ms. Trump also maintains a stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, just down the street from the White House.

“When they weren’t going into the White House, I thought there was a lot of leeway there,” said John Pudner, the executive director of the conservative nonprofit Take Back Our Republic.

Now, he said, “anything can be viewed as influence.”

“I think it’s bad for the administration,” added Mr. Pudner, who voted for Mr. Trump. “It could call into question any decision made, people wondering if there’s a business angle to it.”

It’s bad for the country. It’s corrupt and sleazy and ugly, and that’s bad for us.

The White House referred comments to the Trump Organization, which did not comment.

Yeah that’s charming. The White House said talk to the hand, and the hand refused to talk. They shouldn’t be refusing to talk. They’re not monarchs. They should be answering questions.

“Everything she does,” said Mr. Weissman of Public Citizen, “is effectively an advertisement for the Ivanka Trump brand.”

Make America A Retail Outlet.

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