The Boston Globe has revealed that Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, received lucrative business favors from the Chinese government on the same day she met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
What a coincidence.
On April 6, just hours before her meeting with Xi, Ivanka’s company won three new trademarks from the Chinese government, giving her a monopoly over Ivanka branded bags, jewelry, and spa services. In an authoritarian country like China, acquiring rights to do business can be treated like favors or leverage in political negotiations.
George W. Bush’s chief White House ethics lawyer, Richard Painter, suggests to Ivanka, “Put the business on hold and stop trying to get trademarks while you’re in government.”
Another former chief ethics lawyer, Norman Eisen who served under Barack Obama, also weighed in: “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. For their own sake, and the country’s, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters.”
It is illegal for Ivanka to use her position as a White House assistant to engage in any policy areas that might affect her personal business interests. Here, the waters grow murky. To what extent can Ivanka talk policy at all with one of America’s biggest trading partners while her own business extensively engages in trade with China?
More troubling, it is possible that the Chinese government delivered the trademarks to Ivanka in an attempt to extract policy favors, or at the very least to subtly influence Ivanka’s attitude towards China.
What is clear, however, is that Ivanka has no place in the White House while she still owns and profits from her personal brand. For that matter, Donald Trump has no place in the White House since he has failed to fully divest from his businesses.
This is an Administration defined by corruption. Americans have had enough of the system in which a few wealthy elites take advantage of everyone else. Under Trump, things have gone from bad to worse.