The uproar over the retailer Nordstrom dropping Ivanka Trump’s clothing and accessory line has reignited concerns that President Trump has remained too close to the family business to avoid conflicts of interest.

Such questions could dog Trump his entire time in office, as there is no real precedent for a president with such vast business holdings.

Trump turned over his company to his adult sons when he became president, but many government watchdogs and ethicists believed the arrangement didn’t ensure enough separation. Many are now taking his public interest in his eldest daughter’s business as proof that his children are no obstacle to his involvement.

The day after the president tweeted that it was unfair of Nordstrom to discontinue his daughter’s products, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway urged people to go out and buy them.

As president, Trump is exempt from the ethics rules applied to federal employees. Conway is not. One such rule prohibits the use of public office for the “endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.” Conway said of Ivanka’s products, “I’m going to give a free commercial here.”

Ethics groups, some of them left-leaning, pounced. So did Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who requested disciplinary action and said Conway’s appeared to be “a textbook violation of government ethics laws.”

“Anyone harboring illusions that there was some separation between the Trump administration and the Trump family businesses has had their fantasy shattered,” said Public Citizen president Robert Weissman in a statement. He added that “President Trump and the Trump administration will use the government apparatus to advance the interests of the family businesses.”

Not all the criticism has come from liberal sources, however. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, described the comments as “clearly over the line” and “unacceptable.”

Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer said the Trump White House had “crossed a very, very important bright line.”

Disgraced ex-lawmaker's chief of staff pleads guilty

Also from the Washington Examiner

Elias “Ronnie” Simmons of Maryland was an aide to former Rep. Corrine Brown.

02/09/17 4:09 PM

“To encourage Americans to buy goods from companies owned by the first family is totally out of bounds and needs to stop,” the frequent Clinton Foundation critic told the Washington Post.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during Thursday’s media briefing that Conway had been “counseled.”

But the bigger issue, beyond Conway’s comments and the president’s propensity for social media retribution, is whether Trump remains too close to his business holdings and is not transparent enough for the public to even know when conflicts of interest exist.

This takes on new importance given that Trump not only uses his Twitter account to shame stores that shun his daughter’s merchandise, but also to pressure companies to keep jobs in the United States. Trump is also playing hardball with government policy to reward businesses that keep jobs here and potentially punish those who ship them overseas.

Before the president took office, Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub said the only solution was for Trump to sell off his real estate empire.

Chelsea Handler taunts Trump with Nordstrom bags outside White House

Also from the Washington Examiner

“A Jew and a gay went to pick a Muslim up from the airport, headed straight to Nordstrom, and then headed over to @whitehouse to give our thanks!” Handler wrote on Instagram.

By Lucas Theis

02/09/17 3:46 PM

“The president is now entering a world of public service,” Shaub said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. “He’s going to be asking his own appointees to make sacrifices. He’s going to be asking our men and women in uniform to risk their lives in conflicts around the world. So no, I don’t think divestiture is too high a price to pay to be the president of the United States of America.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cut his ties to Exxon Mobil, where he had been CEO, at a reported cost of $7 million. Wilbur Ross, Trump’s pick for secretary of commerce, is set to divest 80 holdings.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued Trump, alleging payments to his businesses from foreign government violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution. “It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office,” the group’s executive director Noah Bookbinder said. “He did not.”

Trump’s advisers have suggested divestment would be costly and impractical, noting that some of the value comes directly from the Trump name. Some have criticized Shaub for donating $500 to President Obama’s 2012 campaign and allowing his office to miss Hillary Clinton’s lapses with paid speeches.

Yet the main reason Trump feels free to ignore ethics watchdogs is the public doesn’t seem to care, at least according to some polling. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found 52 percent thought it was “enough” for him to turn his business over to his children; 69 percent told Bloomberg he shouldn’t have to sell his businesses.

On the other hand, Quinnipiac found 60 percent were at least somewhat concerned “Trump would veto a law that would be good for the country because it would hurt his business interests.” Almost as many, 57 percent, told Pew Research Center they were at least somewhat concerned Trump’s “relationships with organizations, businesses or foreign governments” might “conflict with his ability to serve the country’s best interests.”

Manchin: Trump open to reviewing 'Gang of Eight' immigration bill

Top Story

The bill died in the House when it met stiff resistance from conservative Republicans.

02/09/17 3:37 PM

Source link

About the Author:

Leave a Reply