Imagine how unacceptable the Right would find it if multiple outlets reported Chelsea Clinton quickly dropped off a conference call she herself was hosting on an upcoming White House event, in an apparent attempt to avoid answering questions related to her company and whether it had benefited from her role in her mother’s administration.
Because that’s allegedly what happened with Ivanka Trump yesterday.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the Chinese government had awarded Ivanka Trump’s brand seven new Chinese trademarks; according to the Associated Press, this means that her fashion brand has now been granted 13 Chinese trademarks in the last three months.
When Ivanka was asked about the trademarks on the conference call, press aide Ninio Fetalvo answered instead, saying, “You can refer those questions to the press office.”
CNN asked the next question, about Donald Trump’s new exercise and diet plan, but CBS News reported that there was a “brief pause,” after which Fetalvo answered again — this time, to say “Ivanka had to step out for another meeting.”
Even though it was her own conference call.
According to the Office of Government Ethics, government employees are prohibited “from participating personally and substantially, in an official capacity, in any ‘particular matter’ that would have a direct and predictable effect on the employee’s own financial interests.”
Ivanka is a White House advisor, but there does not seem to be any indication that she or anyone in her father’s administration is concerned about this restriction; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has noted “Ivanka has represented the United States at multiple diplomatic events despite the potential conflicts her business interests present.”
Although Ivanka is no longer in a leadership role in her company, she still benefits financially from it. And the Associated Press reported, “Ivanka Trump’s company last applied for trademarks — 17 of them — on March 28, 2017, the day before she took on a formal role at the White House.”
I can only imagine the reaction if Chelsea Clinton were on a conference call for a White House event and refused to answer questions related to her company and if it were potentially benefiting from her mother being in the White House.
Furthermore, President Trump recently abruptly reversed his position on the Chinese company ZTE; RedState diarist StridentConservative wrote that “Trump’s deal with ZTE had all the markings of a pay-to-play arrangement after it was discovered that the Chinese government, in an amazing display of coincidental timing, committed $500 million to a Trump-branded golf course and hotel project in Indonesia just days prior to his promise of relief for the troubled telecommunications firm.”*
By all accounts, this misuse of power for personal profit is blatantly corrupt and unethical. We should not become used to this. We should not shrug at this. We should not accept this just because it’s occurring in a Republican administration. We should be just as outraged as if it were Chelsea Clinton and her husband abusing their positions in the Clinton White House for personal gain.
*This sentence has been edited to provide clarification.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.