The Conflicts in Ivanka’s ‘60 Minutes’ Look
It’s just a bracelet.
But it’s Ivanka Trump’s bracelet.
A backlash is brewing against President-elect Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, because a pricey accessory her fashion company makes was turned into marketing fodder a day after she sported a version of the piece during a “60 Minutes” interview.
A “style alert” that one of her brands, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, sent to journalists on Monday featured a photo from her TV appearance with a caption explaining she was “wearing her favorite bangle from the Metropolis Collection on ‘60 Minutes.’”
As Bloomberg News reporter Lindsey Rupp noted, some critics thought that Ivanka was piggybacking on her father’s post-Election Day notoriety to boost business. Although her company blamed an overzealous employee for looping “60 Minutes” into the campaign, it’s not the first time her team has drawn attention to its marketing. Similar concerns were aired in July when Ivanka’s company promoted one of her dresses by highlighting that it was just like the one she wore when she spoke at the Republican National Convention.
Good for Ivanka Trump. She has admirable entrepreneurial flair, and self-promotion is a storied pastime in the Trump family. And after all, it’s just a bracelet.
Yet the episode underscores how often the Trumps are likely to encounter financial and business conflicts in the months and years ahead. As time goes on, it will be the bigger things that count: sizable real estate transactions, hotel and golf course developments, lucrative global licensing deals whose value is derived in large measure from the Trump name itself. All of this raises concerns about the ways policymaking in the White House could overlap with commerce in Trump Tower.
Though they’ve only been First Family-elect for a week, the Trumps haven’t done much to assuage those concerns. The future president has said that his children will run the Trump Organization, and that having them do so without his input will amount to a “blind trust.” (It doesn’t, and the Office of Government Ethics precludes family members from overseeing blind trusts anyhow.)
Donald Trump has also undermined the notion that his children will steer clear of the federal government by putting his three eldest progeny, and his son-in-law, on his transition team. In fact, Trump may have gone a step further. CBS and CNN have reported that the president-elect had inquired about security clearances for his children, though a Trump representative denied an official request had been made.
As I’ve written before, the conflict-of-interest laws that are meant to keep politicians from taking advantage of the federal government and the public by self-dealing have never applied to presidents. There’s some good thinking behind this: Given the number of issues the president touches, any conflict-of-interest law would be bound to come up short.
Presidents, in recognizing that responsibility accompanies this latitude, have traditionally turned their business and financial interests over to a disinterested third party. There are some understandable hurdles for Donald Trump in pursuing that course. His father founded the Trump Organization and Trump helped him expand from a small office on Brooklyn’s Avenue Z into Manhattan real estate. So the prospect of turning over what is now an interwoven collection of real estate holdings and licensing deals to a true outsider is bound to feel bittersweet.
Still, had the outcome of last week’s election been different, Hillary Clinton and her family would have been under pressure to consider dissolving their foundation, or radically changing their relationship to it. Now that Trump has won, the same ethical burden falls to him. Otherwise, bracelets will be the smallest of his problems.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
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