Ivanka Trump's company came under heavy criticism this week when it began promoting sales of a $10,000 bracelet that she wore on "60 Minutes." And now, the future first daughter's company is seemingly backtracking after being accused of conflating her father's presidential interview with her own personal business.
A “fashion alert” was initially sent to journalists on Monday by Monica Marder, vice president of sales for Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry. It promoted Ivanka Trump as wearing “her favorite bangle from the Metropolis Collection” on the CBS News show. The bracelet costs $8,800 to $10,800. “Please share this with your clients…” the email said.
As a result, the company was accused of trying to make money off the election results through the interview.
On Tuesday, Abigail Klem, president of the company, said in a statement to NBC News that the “style alert” distributed to fashion journalists after the “60 Minutes” interview “was sent by a well-intentioned marketing employee at one of our companies who was following customary protocol, and who, like many of us, is still making adjustments post-election.”
Klem added: "We are proactively discussing new policies and procedures with all of our partners going forward.”
A public relations firm representing Ivanka Trump would not comment on whether or not the president-elect’s daughter was aware that the email went out in the first place.
The interview was not the first time Ivanka Trump used her father’s political spotlight to highlight her brand. In July, the former model marketed a blush pink sheath dress she wore at the Republican National Convention. The dress, which retailed at a more affordable $138, quickly sold out.
Somewhat ironically, Ivanka Trump insisted that the Trump brand wasn’t a priority during the “60 Minutes” interview. “I don’t think it matters,” she responded when host Lesley Stahl asked if the controversial campaign has tarnished the Trump brand. “This is so much more important. And more serious …That’s the focus,” she added.
The president-elect added, “I think what Ivanka is trying to say, ‘Who cares? Who cares?’ This is big league stuff ... this is our country. Our country is going bad. We’re going to save our country. I don’t care about hotel occupancy. It’s peanuts compared to what we’re doing.”
The email about the bracelet, however, underscores the many conflict-of-interest scenarios the president-elect and his business empire may face. For example:
The Emoluments clause
While Trump wouldn't have any legal obligation to sell or step away from his business interests under the Ethics in Government Act, he could face legal issues under the Emoluments clause in the Constitution, which dates back to 1787. It has since been interpreted by the Department of Justice as banning government officials from accepting any kind of gift from a foreign entity.
Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, gave the example of corporations putting the Trump name on a building owned by a foreign company. "That could be considered as a gift," he said. "If you have a transaction between a Trump entity and a company owned by a foreign government — that could be grounds for impeachment."
His children’s overall role
Trump has said his kids will advise him, not to mention be a key part of his transition team. Federal law bans the president from appointing a relative — including in-laws like Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner — to federal agency positions. Still, legally the president could appoint a family member to a non-cabinet, non-federal employee position. That issue was brought up when then-President Clinton asked his wife, Hillary, to lead the health care task force. But critics are already charging the Trumps with nepotism.
The blind trust
The president-elect has said his business holdings will be placed into a blind trust with his oldest three children in charge. As many critics have pointed out, a trust cannot be blind if you know who's running it and what assets it includes.
"It's hard to see how you keep this wall between you and your children," said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "It's hard to imagine that Trump wouldn't know what was going on with these properties, with how they are performing, if money is coming in or not, and decisions on buying new properties. There's not the same degree of ignorance you would have with a blind trust."
His Washington, D.C., hotel
The Republican recently opened a new hotel in Washington D.C. The problem? It’s at the Old Post Office building, owned by the federal government and leased to the Trump Organization. The General Services Administration — which Trump is now in charge of — is also in charge of his lease. What happens if there's a dispute over this financial arrangement? Will the GSA really make a fuss with the president?