The Associated Press
reports that on the same day Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner joined a Mar-a-Lago dinner with Chinese president Xi Jinping, the Chinese government gave provisional approval to her company for three new trademarks.
The AP report doesn’t include any direct indication that the two events were correlated, although it underlines what an interesting idea it was to put a couple with considerable ties to China in charge of policy on China. Ivanka, who is now officially serving as an unpaid advisor in the West Wing, is prohibited by law from taking any action that would benefit her own financial holdings; she shifted her brand’s assets to a family-run trust and claims she will recuse herself from any issues that might present a conflict of interest. Her attorney Jamie Gorelick said in a statement that she “will not weigh in on business strategy, marketing issues, or the commercial terms of agreements.” But the couple’s vast financial holdings and business ties—their ethics filings recently showed that they are still benefiting from a real estate and investment business worth up to $740 million—have ethics lawyers foaming at the mouth. From the AP:
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.’’
China, however, remains a nagging concern. ‘‘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,’’ said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under Barack Obama. ‘‘For their own sake, and the country’s, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters.’’
Instead, the first daughter and her husband have emerged as prominent interlocutors with China, where they have both had significant business ties.
And Ivanka’s business, according to the Associated Press, is doing quite well, despite the boycott efforts of the #GrabYourWallet campaign—U.S. imports, mostly from China, increased around 166 percent in 2016, while data from e-commerce platform Lyst shows that after Donald Trump was elected president, the number of Ivanka Trump products sold through Lyst shot up.
Gorelick told the AP that the couple will avoid specific areas that could be seen as conflicts of interest, but are not legally obligated to step away from broad issues like trade with China.
Welp, nothing to see here, folks! Move along, now.