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On February 8, in what has become an all too common occurrence, President Donald Trump P ’00 unleashed an angry message from his Twitter account. However, instead of being about typical targets such as The New York Times and CNN, the tweet focused on the retailer Nordstrom’s recent decision to drop the fashion line of his daughter, Ivanka Trump ‘00.  President Trump commented, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person—always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” This proclamation, and subsequent statements by President Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway not only have no place coming from the White House, but they are also morally wrong.

Especially for a member of the political party that frequently espouses the virtues of free-market competition, Mr. Trump’s claim that Nordstrom was “unfair” to drop his daughter’s brand is extremely hypocritical. As a spokesperson for Nordstrom stated, “We’ve said all along we make buying decisions based on performance. We’ve got thousands of brands — more than 2,000 offered on the site alone. Reviewing their merit and making edits is part of the regular rhythm of our business. Each year we cut about 10% and refresh our assortment with about the same amount. In this case, based on the brand’s performance we’ve decided not to buy it for this season.”  Evidently, the decision was based on profit.

And yet how could PresidentTrump’s political actions not have played a role? It may come as a surprise to President Trump, but the bigoted behaviors he preached throughout his campaign, and now practices in the White House, have tainted his family name. Movements such as #GrabYourWallet have popularized boycotts against any businesses that continue to carry Trump products — Nordstrom was merely looking out for its own economic interest by dropping the line.

Although some may argue that it is unfair to punish Ms. Trump for her father’s actions, such a claim fails to consider how closely she has associated herself with her father’s political career. Ms. Trump was one of President Trump’s most ardent and effective surrogates throughout the campaign, and continues to be an unofficial adviser to him in his role as president. President Trump named Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, Senior Adviser to the President (just as he did Ms. Conway). Whether she likes it or not, Ms. Trump is inextricably linked to her father, and is a deserving recipient of public ire and resistance. Ultimately, what matters to Nordstrom is whether the Ivanka Trump line makes money or doesn’t. Considering the massive controversy enveloping her and her brand, the corporation decided it was no longer profitable to continue stocking it — just as any savvy, capitalist business would. 

Additionally, it is simply unethical for President Trump to use the power of the presidency to enhance his daughter’s financial gain. Theodore Roosevelt coined the term “bully pulpit” to describe the platform associated with being the President of the U.S., and that awesome influence should not be wielded to benefit the business of a family member. Since standard federal ethics laws do not apply to the president, this is not technically a rule violation. However, it is still morally corrupt. As one of George W. Bush ethics lawyers, Richard Painter, put it, President Trump’s tweet was “particularly reprehensible.”

As is often the case with the Trump administration, the wrongdoing involved in this incident does not start and end with the president alone. Indeed, Ms. Conway is equally — if not more — complicit in ethics violations as  President Trump. In an appearance on Fox News on February 9, Ms. Conway hawked Ms. Trump’s fashion label. “I’m going to give a free commercial here,” she said. “Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.” This brazen endorsement was met with swift backlash for good reason — it is a stunning breach of ethics laws.

As stipulated by the Office of Governmental Ethics, it is prohibited for any employee of the executive branch to give “the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.” Undoubtedly, by going on national television and hawking the president’s daughter’s brand, Ms. Conway was grossly breaking this rule. Indeed, Ms. Conway’s actions were condemned on both sides of the political aisle, with the Republican chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Jason Chaffetz (R-CA.), dubbing them “wrong, wrong, wrong” and ordering an investigation into the matter, and Obama ethics official, Norm Eisen, calling them “an abuse of the office of the president.”

Even before Mr. Trump took office, his administration promised to be riddled with corruption and conflicts of interest. As his and Ms. Conway’s actions demonstrate, they are more than living up to expectations.

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