Back in March, 2016, all mention of the Ivanka Trump brand was removed from the main Trump Organization website. The fact that many of the brand's products were manufactured overseas, often in China, clashed with Donald J. Trump's "America First" campaign rhetoric. Even the Trump Organization, savvy and successful business that it is, knows it's sometimes best to put space between its main operations and a perhaps controversial brand.
Nordstrom, the department store, did something similar. A longtime carrier of Ivanka Trump-branded products, the retail chain recently announced that it wouldn't order Ivanka Trump products for its next season and that any remaining items would be sold in stores and removed from the chain's websites. The Seattle-based company cited dropping sales and explained that it regularly reevaluated which lines it carries based on performance.
Yet, Nordstrom's actions have now upset President Trump, who took to Twitter on Wednesday to lambast the company. "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom," he wrote. "She is a great person—always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!"
Now, he's gotten his official White House staff involved in the dispute. Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News' Fox & Friends on Thursday and addressed the dispute.
Conway praised the first daughter's line as "a wildly successful company," and informed Fox News viewers that they can still buy the line from around 1,000 locations, including online stores.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you,” she told the audience. “I hate shopping, I’m going to go get some myself today.”
“This is just a wonderful line,” she continued. “I own some of it. I fully—I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.” The pronouncement already has some claiming that Kellyanne Conway broke the law by providing the "free commercial."
Chris Lu, former deputy secretary of labor in the Obama administration, took to Twitter to point out a federal law that forbids government officials from endorsing any product or service for their own personal gain. The Ivanka Trump brand is a subsidiary of the Trump Organization.
Ivanka Trump stepped down from her roles at the Trump Organization and from her own brand before her father's inauguration, but still receives fixed payments based on the performance of projects she worked on. President Trump and family of course still own the Trump Organization, despite pleas during the transition that the president should put the business in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest; instead he claimed his sons, Don Jr. and Eric, would take over as chief executives.
The Trumps seem to be particularly upset that its female members' efforts to profit off of fashion lines during the president's term have been impeded. A libel lawsuit filed by First Lady Melania Trump claimed that a false report damaged her ability to launch a product line across categories like apparel, footwear, cosmetics, and fragrances.
It also seems to be crossing Republican orthodoxy for a president to interfere in the bottom-line business decisions of a major company. Though Trump has singled out individual companies for criticism before, it's usually been done, in his followers' view, on behalf of taxpayers and the American public. The criticism of Nordstrom seems to be on behalf of only Trump's family and personal businesses.
It seems like Nordstrom, though, will weather the storm. Its stock price continues to rise after Trump's tweet and a campaign via social media urges women to buy from the store.
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