Ivanka Trump may not understand what complicit means, but one would assume a businesswoman of her posturing would certainly understand what a conflict of interest is.
However, her actions on Tuesday show that she is either oblivious to the idea or simply does not care and is willing to use her new position to further her own self-interests.
In a coincidence that seems too perfect to be true, the Chinese government gave Trump provisional approval for three new trademarks on Tuesday. This allows the second-largest economy in the world to monopolize the selling rights for Ivanka Trump brand jewelry, bags, and spa services. It's an incredibly profitable win for Trump, but it also looks incredibly shady given the fact she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife that very night at Mar-A-Lago.
CNN reports that Ivanka Trump's company already holds 16 other fully registered trademarks in China and that the Trump Organization itself has also secured trademark approval from the country. According to The Guardian, they received preliminary approval for 38 trademarks in business areas like hospitality, mining, construction, and even escort services earlier this year.
While the Trump team insists that this all falls within the normal course of business, ethics lawyers say that the current administration's commercial proclivities are unprecedented in American politics.
While using the prestige of a government position to make money is distasteful, it is not entirely illegal, but criminal conflict of interest law explicitly prohibits government officials from being privy to any government matter that could influence their finances.
Since President Donald Trump was elected to office, many have voiced concern that the links between his organization and his status as leader of the free world are suspiciously murky, creating opportunity for severe ethics violations. His daughter's actions are equally worrisome.
‘‘Put the business on hold and stop trying to get trademarks while you’re in government,’’ said Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, to The Boston Globe.
In order to take on a role in her father's administration, Ivanka Trump resigned from managing her clothing and accessories company, although she still has financial stake in the business as owner. Jamie Gorelick, her attorney, told CNN that her assets had been placed in a trust, a word the public is familiar with since the president required one of his own to distance himself from his business dealings while in office.
Other conflicts of interest arise when the details of Ivanka Trump's ties to her family's organization come to light: She has ownership stake ranging from $5 million to $25 million in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, according to financial disclosure forms.
Politics is a tricky enough business without inserting actual business into the mix. The Trumps appear to be playing a dangerous game that may indeed prove beneficial to their bank accounts, but at what potential cost to the family and to the American people?
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters